Ever since he first laced on a pair of football boots Jai Arrow has been forced to line up against boys bigger than himself but says now that he has tasted the NRL he just wants more and more.
The young Broncos forward has begun his second pre-season in the full-time NRL squad feeling much more confident than this time 12 months ago when he took his first tentative steps as a teammate of Corey Parker, Justin Hodges, Sam Thaiday, Darius Boyd and the other established Brisbane first-graders.
Arrow's first steps into junior rugby league came in Sydney with the less-than-threatening sounding Our Lady Queen of Peace junior rugby league club at just four years of age, his father convincing the coach of the under-6s that his four-year-old son could handle himself.
With 12 NRL games to his name in his rookie season in 2016, Arrow is determined to use the rest of the pre-season to press his claims for a berth in the top 17 for the Round 1 season opener against the Sharks in Sydney.
"Last year was my first pre-season coming in and it's a bit daunting being a young kid coming into a full-time squad," Arrow told NRL.com.
"I was pretty lucky last year with what happened and I get a lot of confidence out of that and feel more comfortable now this time coming into pre-season."
As for the major lessons that he took out of his first exposure to the NRL, the 21-year-old said that his tremendous work ethic that is the hallmark of his game was the right foundation for a place amongst rugby league elite.
"I try to be the guy that works his arse off and does everything that he is told and hopefully I get a crack and I guess that's what happened for me last year," Arrow said.
"It's a lifelong dream of mine [to play NRL] and I don't want to let it slip.
"I'm a pretty strong-minded guy sometimes when it comes to some stuff but now that I've had a little bit of a taste of it all I want to do is to have more."
While youngsters come into junior rugby league in a myriad of different ways, a young Arrow made it very clear to his parents from the age of four that all he wanted was to play footy.
"I was a year younger than everyone and my dad pretty much hounded the coach to let me play down in Sydney and then I moved up to the Gold Coast when I was about six years old," said Arrow, who played the majority of his junior football with the Burleigh Bears.
"He didn't push me or anything, it was all my decision.
"As a young kid I'd run around with the footy and I think I just said to him that I wanted to play and he said, 'All right, I'll do the best I can.'
"I had a couple of years down there and then came up here. As a young kid it's pretty easy to make friends and that's what I did at Burleigh. I made a lot of lifelong friends at Burleigh."
Attending famed rugby league nursery Keebra Park on the Gold Coast while the majority of his Burleigh teammates were at rival Palm Beach Currumbin, Arrow recalls plenty of occasions of coming up against his mates in school footy but has one special memory of his days with the Bears.
"When we won the grand final in under-16s," said Arrow.
"There was five years in a row when we got beat in the grand final to Runaway Bay and then we ended up winning one, so that was one of my good memories of junior rugby league.
"I was the only one from our team who was at Keebra and the rest were at Palm Beach so I was the odd one out there.
"We'd play against each other all the time and it was good coming up against your mates.
"You're best mates off the field but when you're on the field you want to touch them up a bit."
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