Josh Addo-Carr celebrates a try in front of Wests Tigers fans.

Josh Addo-Carr is not your average NRL rookie.

At 20 years of age he is typical of many of the debutants who come into the top grade and fulfil dreams born in backyards and through vivid imaginations, but he is old in terms of life lessons.

All around him the Wests Tigers speedster has seen opportunities wasted and the worst kinds of decisions made yet there has always remained a glimmer of hope.

When he was working as a labourer for his uncle seven days a week drilling holes, concreting, cutting wood – "you name it" – that glimmer threatened to fade but a move to Leichhardt in a physical and spiritual sense has now made him one of the more enthralling talents to emerge in 2016.

After two years with the Sharks in the under-20s competition Addo-Carr has parlayed three NRL starts into three NRL tries and last Friday night against the Broncos ran 172 metres like he was a man afraid of what might be behind him.

In the case of Addo-Carr, the past is a genuine source of motivation.

The facemask signal he gave after scoring a crucial second half try against the Broncos was a show of support to family members who are currently behind bars and also his mother and aunty who have given him the stability at home to fulfil his potential.

"My family that's in prison – when I was younger they supported me and I'm just showing that I'm still behind them and that I love them to death," Addo-Carr told NRL.com of who his post-try celebration was directed towards.

"The big thing for me was just living in a stable home and being happy. That's when I play my best football.

"For personal reasons I was moving from house to house, family houses and that and I just stuck with my footy and ended up at the Tigers.

"I'm now living with my mum and my aunty in Leichhardt. Ever since I moved back into home I've been playing my best football. [I'm] just happy and that's all I ever wanted and play football.

"I'm making them proud and that's all I've ever wanted. Just to make my family proud and live my life."

 

 
Born in Blacktown before being raised in Redfern, Addo-Carr would regularly score a half-dozen tries in junior games and believes he was born to play football.

He scored 28 tries in 44 games for Cronulla's NYC team and had two other NRL clubs chasing his signature before signing a one-year deal with the Wests Tigers.

People could see plenty of talent but Addo-Carr is adamant his rapid rise into the NRL ranks is attributed to his new-found belief in God.

"I used to live with my older cousin when I was moving house to house and ever since I found God I'm playing first grade," said the 20-year-old.

"At the start of the year I found God and ever since I found God good things have been happening for me and look where I am now.

"I didn't like working, man. I don't think I was born to work, I think I was born to play football and why waste my life if I'm good at something? Just try to make the most of it.

"Footy is the only thing I'm good at. I was never good at school so if I'm good at something why not make the most of it and try and go as far as I can?"

Off contract at the end of the year, the way Addo-Carr has taken to first grade is likely to attract the attention of plenty of NRL clubs.

In just three games he has scored three tries and made 12 tackle busts and five line breaks but coach Jason Taylor has been most impressed with his efforts in defence.

"He's a player who hasn't had a great deal of NRL experience but he's handled it really well and we're really excited about what he can do for us for the remainder of the year," Taylor said.

"He's got some speed that's for sure. He's doing a really great job and I thought that he made some crucial tackles [against Brisbane].

"He scored a crucial try but with his speed, some of the tackles that he made out on the edge there, him and Tim Simona I thought they handled James Roberts really well, because he is hard to handle."