Western Sydney's David Andjelic became the fifth competitor to be cut from The NRL Rookie when he and PNG's Karo Kauna Junior were part of a double eviction in Episode 5 on Tuesday night.
Andjelic came to fame after running through a brick wall in his audition tape for The NRL Rookie and went on to show his skills as a blockbusting front-rower on the show. From small beginnings, the big prop is still aiming to make it in rugby league despite being cut from The NRL Rookie.
"Growing up, rugby league was pretty much the culture around Mt Druitt and western Sydney," Andjelic told NRL.com.
"A lot of the people I grew up with were playing and I was always bigger and stronger than others, so I started playing league and never looked back."
Coming through the juniors he played with Minchinbury Jets and Penrith Panthers, but found a home at St Patricks Rugby League Club in Blacktown. Andjelic said as soon as auditions for The NRL Rookie opened he felt drawn to the show.
"It was like an epiphany. Something was attracting me to it. I was just thinking about it so much," he said.
"The idea of running through a brick wall seemed really appealing and I thought it would turn a few heads, so I thought I'd have a crack at that and see the response and just go from there."
The response was huge and Andjelic went on to make the top 14 on The NRL Rookie in what was an eye-opening experience for the boy from Serbia.
"It was such a big contrast from where I've come from. It was from one end of the spectrum – having nothing, doing nothing, to experiencing what it might be like to live an NRL lifestyle," he said.
"Being on the show I had no worries, no stress and no anxiety. Just to have some relief mentally was good."
The 21-year-old performed strongly in the weekly games and took a lot out of the coaching from Brad Fittler, Mark Geyer and Adrian Lam.
"They're top quality coaches, especially Mark Geyer, I definitely connected with him straight away because he's a Mt Druitt boy himself," Andjelic said.
"He was always in my ear, egging me on and had my back. He really helped out, as well as Lammy. It was basically having legends coaching you so I got some pretty good information and footy advice.
"Playing against the Melbourne Storm team was a big highlight because they produce the best players in their Under 20s system. Their NRL system is also unbelievable so to showcase my skills against them was a big opportunity and a big challenge so I was happy to play against them and take on some good players."
Andjelic says he was carrying an injury on the show and hasn't been able to play any footy since then. But he is hoping to make his return soon and has taken his learnings from The NRL Rookie to put himself in a good place to make the best of his rugby league career.
"I did my groin in the show, but I never made it an excuse and I played every game. I didn't pull out of any challenges either. I'm not making it an excuse now either, but that's the reason I'm not playing footy at the moment," he said.
"I hope to be back playing in a few weeks for St Patricks. I think I was probably at 70 to 80 per cent fitness on the show, so I know at 100 per cent I'm capable of making it.
"Hopefully I can land something next pre-season with an NRL club and impress people and show them my attitude is tip-top. I've completely changed my fitness regime and my diet. I've lost a lot of weight and everything is going well.
"I was in a really dark place and going on the show gave me a breath of fresh air. Honestly, it put me back on the right path and has definitely helped me."
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AUSTRALIAN BROADCAST DETAILS:
Each episode will air five times during the week on free to air television across the Nine Network:
• PREMIERE – Tuesday – GO! 7.30PM (SYD/MEL/BRIS)
• ENCORE 1 - Wednesday - CH9 10.30PM (SYD/BRIS)
• ENCORE 2 - Saturday - CH9 1PM (BRIS)
• ENCORE 3 - Sunday - CH9 2.30PM (SYD)
• ENCORE 4 - Monday - GO! 11.30PM (SYD/MEL/BRIS/ADE/PER)
Please note: these time may vary from week to week so be sure to check your local guides.