Wests Tigers back-rower Curtis Sironen has credited the club's player exodus at the end of the last season as a reason for his return to the City Origin team.
With the likes of Braith Anasta, Adam Blair, James Gavet, Liam Fulton, Cory Paterson and Bodene Thompson leaving the Tigers at the end of last season, the pressure was on the 21-year-old to lift his game this year.
When asked if the Tigers' player exodus was a reason behind his a solid performances this season, Sironen couldn't help but agree.
"I've had to buy into the ownership of myself and my growth within as a player. I've also had to take a bit more responsibility on board in terms of how our side is going as well," Sironen told NRL.com.
"It's definitely good, I feel myself maturing a bit and I still have a long way to go but experiences like this are definitely going to help me. I was unfortunately injured for half of last year so I missed out on a good opportunity [to play for City] but this was a goal for the season.
"I've been able to play some consistent footy and I have earned my shot. I'm really appreciative and I'm out to make the most of it now. I know what it's like considering I've been here before so I just definitely want to improve on that experience."
The chance to emulate his father Balmain legend Paul Sironen is another source of motivation.
Sironen Sr played eight times for City between 1987 and 1996 – the equal most City caps for an individual – and with the former NSW and Australian back-rower on Brad Fittler's current City Origin staff as team manager, young Curtis has embraced having his dad around in camp.
"He casts a big shadow but I've just learnt to embrace it. I've been copping stuff about being my old man's son for years but now I'm just rolling with it," Sironen said.
"Everyone knows he's a good bloke so there's definitely no drama with him being here so I'm glad he's here now. It might be good for my footy because it gives me that home feel. You don't really feel you're away in camp that much because you're sticking to routine a little bit.
"He was one of my idols growing up obviously so it's just another stepping stone for me to follow him. I have ambitions to play at the highest level but I'm just worried about this for now and enjoy the week."
With the North Ryde Hawks junior aspiring for State of Origin football in future, City coach Fittler said there was a genuine opportunity for Sironen and the other 33 players taking part in this weekend's City v Country clash to show their worth.
"There's some talk around the moment about players, injuries and who's in form which can be really motivating. It's going to be a good game. There is a lot of motivation to do good because everyone feels there are spots up for grabs," Fittler said.
"You see blokes come in and revel in this environment and show who they are. Toops [Daniel Tupou] came out of this situation last year and went straight to Origin. There are plenty of blokes who come through and get the chance to utilise the game. It's all about an opportunity."