Knights winger Ross sets sights on Origin
Newcastle Knights winger Nathan Ross is extending his sights beyond helping the Knights climb the ladder - he also wants a NSW Blues jersey.
The 29-year-old winger, who has racked up 45 Telstra Premiership games for the Newcastle Knights, since his debut in 2015, has set his season goals as reaching the 50-game landmark in round five and breaking into the Blues side.
Newcastle are undoubtedly in their strongest position since the "Rossdog" joined in 2015 from the Kurri Kurri Bulldogs in the Newcastle Rugby League.
"I'd like to think that I've progressed a lot not just as a player but also as a person," Ross said.
"I'm still continuing to grow as I am still fairly new in my NRL career.
"If I continue to work hard I've certainly got ambitions to play State of Origin. But I don't forget where I've come from that's for sure. The sky is the limit."
Almost from the moment he burst onto the scene with a try on debut, he has been a fan favourite.
"My biggest personal sacrifice was that I had to give up a very well-paying job in the mines and that really restricted the way I lived my life," Ross recalls.
"I had to sell my car and really cut back on expenses to where I wanted to be in life. The harder you work the luckier you get."
One of the challenges he will face on Saturday night is facing off with superstar Jarryd Hayne who is making his return to the Parramatta Eels in Newcastle's final trial before the Telstra Premiership kicks off.
But he knows that it will take more than just one player to shut down the former Gold Coast Titans fullback.
"He's a player that can do anything," Ross said.
"It's not my job to shut him down as it's a team game. We just cannot be worried just about Jarryd as they've got a lot of talent across the board.
"But as long as we play well collectively I am sure the coach will be happy."
The club's leading try scorer in 2017, Ross is confident the new-look Knights can score points this year but that will count for little if they don't get their defensive structure sorted.
"We are not too worried about the result tomorrow night," Ross said.
"We are worried about the process and everything that we've learnt during the pre-season. And if we do that the results will come."