'Time getting away' for Panthers recruit Oldfield
New Panthers recruit Michael Oldfield says he knows time is getting away from him to establish himself as an NRL player after six seasons in and out of first grade and is desperate to give himself the best chance at his new club in 2017.
The former Sea Eagle, who played three, 12 and nine NRL games in his three years on the northern beaches, frankly admits he didn't play well enough in his limited chances at the Rabbitohs last year, despite scoring two tries in his four games.
Bookending those two stints were a year at Bondi in 2013 – which featured a solitary top-grade game – and a consistent two seasons at Catalans in 2014-15 where he notched 27 tries in 42 Super League appearances.
While he had the option to stay in the south of France – which would have been a better move financially – a desire to be closer to family and friends and prove himself in the NRL drove him home.
After that lacklustre season at Redfern in 2016, the now-26-year-old hopes the move to the foot of the mountains may get the best out of him – though he isn't pinning his hopes on the absence of injured star winger Josh Mansour, with plenty of other outside backs fighting for spots.
"It is mentally challenging [being in and out of first grade]," Oldfield said of his 30 NRL games in five seasons at three different clubs.
"I've never been signed to a club where I've probably been seen as a starter. But I've had some crucial injuries at bad times for me personally and a lot of it's timing.
"I hope to give myself the best opportunity to stay fresh and injury free and playing good footy and hopefully I do get that chance.
"Being a regular in an NRL side is a massive achievement so if I can find my feet this year and give myself some consistent time on the field then I'll be cheering because it's a year I really need to knuckle down and get my name back out there because time's getting away from me."
Oldfield joined the Panthers with every intention of fighting for a first grade spot even before the news of Mansour's long-term knee injury, though would have faced an even stiffer challenge with incumbents Mansour and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak both fit.
"I came here with all intentions of fighting for a spot. There's always going to be boys fighting for spots and being an outside back in particular, if you don't start you don't play," Oldfield said.
"It's just one of those things, if you're not performing at training them come game time 'Hook' (coach Anthony Griffiin) is not going to give you a start.
"Poor 'Sauce' [Mansour] has obviously done his knee and would be a frontrunner for any team so that spot needs to be filled and whoever Hook gives the nod to, I'm sure they'll do a good job but I'm going to put my best foot forward."
Oldfield hopes the insecurity that comes with constantly playing for a contract for the following year could be alleviated by some strong performances in 2017.
"Security is massive and if you know you're locked in for several years you can really enjoy it because you don't want to be consistently worrying about your contract, where you're going to be," he said.
"Especially if you jump from club to club. It is a constant battle I've had to deal with the last couple of years but that's only my own doing and there's only one way to rectify that."
Oldfield was blunt about how things panned out at Souths last year, with the club not offering to extend his stay.
"It was pretty much just opportunity, the deal last year. I didn't help myself. I got injured two times, spent significant time on the sidelines then when I got my chance I didn't play too well. It's just the way it is," he said.