Garvey's 'calming' All Stars experience
New Bulldogs hooker Craig Garvey hopes to carry a sense of calm that he found in camp with the Indigenous All Stars back to Belmore and stake his claim for a place in Des Hasler's team for Round 1 against the Sea Eagles.
Playing opposite Australian captain Cameron Smith for the first time in his young career, Garvey saw firsthand how to control the flow of a game by the absolute best in the business but says it was the week in camp that made him feel at peace.
Called into the Indigenous All Stars squad less than two weeks prior to the game, Garvey was rushed into the starting team when Cowboys hooker Ray Thompson went down with a broken ankle in the team's final training session.
He responded by producing one of the more eye-catching performances of the night and believes the whole experience will make him a better footballer moving forward.
"I sat down with one of the mentors at the Bulldogs and said that I really wanted to take everything in this week and I slowed everything down and really experienced the whole week. I didn't just go through the motions," Garvey told NRL.com.
"I'll probably take away the calmness I got from the week. I came into this weekend feeling really calm with the players around me and hopefully I can carry that all year.
"I wasn't frantic at the football which I sometimes can be and that was probably a big step for me.
"Looking around at the players I played with and against it was an honour being a part of this.
"Playing with the older boys, seeing how they carry themselves around training I can take a lot of confidence out of the game and my match fitness going into Round 1 in three weeks."
Garvey's Indigenous lineage is rich in Australian sporting history with his grandfather, the late Jack Hassen, an Australian lightweight boxing champion and his grandmother, Norma Simms, related to South Sydney legend Eric Simms.
He was stood down by the Dragons for the entire 2014 season after he was found guilty of assaulting a man in a Wollongong nightclub and issued with 300 hours of community service.
In November last year he signed a two-year deal with the Bulldogs and says he is now ready to make good on the talent that saw him make his NRL debut as a 20-year-old in 2013.
"I've had a look back at how I've carried myself in a couple of pre-seasons with the travel that I did all the time," said Garvey, who grew up in housing commission in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs and who travelled some 800 kilometres a week to get to training in Wollongong.
"I put myself at risk at turning up late to training a couple of times so I get to training pretty early now and just get through what I have to get through and work real hard with the boys.
"As soon as I went in [to the Bulldogs] I was welcomed with open arms and I'm loving it. I've had probably the best pre-season I've had so feeling really fit and it's not bad having the big boys from the Bulldogs around you.
"I got along real well with Des from the get-go. He just told me what he expected. He just wants everybody to work hard and play his plays.
"He can be a happy man but if you don't do what he wants then you're in big trouble.
"But I'm really liking playing under Des. He's giving me a bit more free rein which comes with the giant forward pack you have as a nine.
"[Michael] Lichaa has been there for a couple of years now and he performs really well so hopefully I get a crack at grade and can hold down a spot this year."