Wiser Lamb ready for latest Knights challenge
Such was the lack of competition for spots at the Newcastle Knights, young five-eighth Brock Lamb admits he took it easy for the opening three months of last season.
Until he received the ultimate wake-up call.
"I thought because I was playing in the NRL I had made it," Lamb told NRL.com.
"Before it happened I was going through the motions and was happy to be here. I wasn't trying too hard. I was cruising and taking my spot for granted."
The "it" Lamb refers to was the heart-breaking night at Belmore when the Knights let a 10-point lead slip against the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs after the 20-year-old failed to find touch on the full-time siren, with Bulldogs halfback Moses Mbye pouncing on a ricochet to race away and seal an unlikely win.
Lamb was taunted after the game by fans, read several "lamb shank" jokes all over social media and even volunteered to front the media the following day in a bid to get over it.
"There are plenty of people out there who have lots to say," Lamb said.
"Until they're in that position themselves they don't understand how tough it is. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, it's just if you take it on board or not.
"It hurt and was hard at the time but I had the boys around me and a lot of good fans behind me. It only took a day and I was over it, others seemed to hold onto it a bit longer.
"In a way I was glad it did happen, it made me pull my head in a little bit and realise at any moment it could all be taken away."
Now the speculation is right on Lamb again, but for a different reason – his future.
A Maitland junior, Lamb has been touted as one of the club's brightest young stars but Newcastle's decision to sign Mitchell Pearce has thrown a spanner in the works for the former Australian Schoolboys representative, who had been favoured to line up alongside former Roosters utility Connor Watson in the halves.
Lamb said it was new territory listening to people speculate over his future after re-signing with the club in a low-key manner in 2016.
"I've been lucky to get a couple of games being so young, but in saying that I wouldn't change it, that's what I wanted to do and have always strived for," Lamb said.
"Everything works itself out but I've got to focus on myself. Wherever I'm playing I've just got to put in good performances and help the team.
"I've seen plenty of stuff about what I'm apparently doing. I jump on Instagram and Facebook and see stuff that I've never seen before or have any idea where it comes from.
"I'd like to stay and play here but I'm just focused on myself. I can't control anything but how hard I train and work. There's not much else I can do. I've got to see where my hard work takes me and enjoy the ride.
"There's plenty of people there fighting for a spot. I think it's good, you get to meet and work off different people and learn from everyone. They've all got different things you pick up.
"You want to build off everyone and try to get all your attributes."