Soward continues to punch above his weight
Wagga Kangaroos junior Jamie Soward is one of the outspoken ones in the NRL.
So he'll probably speak for most of us who are vertically challenged when he says he would roll his eyes whenever someone would tell him that smaller kids had "a little bit more brains" than the bigger ones.
"But you had to see it like that, because you'd look at some of the kids in Sydney who were so big when I was 12 and 13 – way bigger than me, anyway," the Panthers five-eighth recalls to NRL.com.
Problem is - they still are. Just as he was under-sized when he arrived in the big city from Wagga, at 176cm, Soward remains one of the smallest players in the NRL.
Just two weeks ago, the 94kg Soward had to stand in front of the T-Rex that was Tony Williams, the Bulldogs back-rower who only had 17 centimetres and 27 kilograms on the headgear-wearing lightweight.
Last Saturday, he had to contend with Gold Coast's new 193 centimetre, 113 kilogram second-row juggernaut Ryan James.
So the fact that he is here in the game's first PlayNRL-themed round after 10 seasons being targeted like a hump in the road – and kind of still in one piece – means he actually has a right to speak for everyone who was told that size matters in this game.
Unless, of course, you're discussing the dimensions of the heart.
"I was tiny, eh. I remember debuting at 83 kilograms or a little bit lighter and I was just really skinny and no muscle. Now I'm fat and got plenty of muscle," he laughs.
"But I always challenge the smaller kids: this is a game where you can compete. And we've shown in the last 110 years that us smaller guys, there is a place for them in the game.
"You look at all the Cooper Cronks and all those guys, they're not massive. But they get out and compete and that's what makes them so good."
However just because he's become a walking – and spiral-passing – advertisement for the little blokes isn't exactly what inspired Soward to follow his rugby league dream to Sydney.
Contrary to popular belief, the 30-year-old didn't start this gig with a sizeable chip on that little shoulder, nor was it for the sizeable pay cheque that would come with cracking it in the land of the giants.
"I just wanted to play with my mates," he shrugs.
"Everyone says you want to play and earn money and stuff, but that really wasn't a realistic goal until I moved to Sydney. Just playing with your mates and having something to look forward to on the weekends.
"I understand that people have different troubles in their lives that not everyone knows about – everyone's dealing with problems. But sometimes for me, I can't wait for the weekend because you know you're going to play footy. Growing up, that was something that I looked forward to."
Soward has always been one of the good ones. He's had his fair share of trouble on the field – half a season in an ill-fated move to the London Broncos will attest to that – but he's never rubbed people up the wrong way because of a misdemeanour or public arrest.
"I don't think it's all glitz and glamour, there's a lot of hard work that goes into it and a lot of stuff behind the scenes that people don't see, including making the right decisions," he says.
"I know many a time I've been troubled on whether to make the right choice and I've been fortunate enough to come out more often than not, on the right side.
"That goes with just surrounding yourself with people and making the choice obviously to try and play NRL. For me, I set that goal pretty early on in life and really didn't give myself any chance to mess it up."
Round 3 of the Telstra Premiership is PlayNRL Round where the game will celebrate all that’s great about grassroots rugby league.
Rugby league is all about having fun, making friends and staying healthy. The NRL is using this round to help promote Junior Rugby League and thank you, our future stars and fans and heroes who help make it all possible.
Join the conversation at #PlayNRL, get your tickets at nrl.com/tickets and get to a game. Talk to your local junior club about signing up as a player or volunteer and join the thousands of people who make rugby league great.