Luke Brooks celebrates with Luke Garner

When Luke Garner charged over the top of Daly Cherry-Evans to score his debut try in the NRL, there was a special sense of accomplishment.

Not only was the moment a sweet occasion against his former club, it capped a remarkable turnaround for a player who conceded he once wasn't mentally invested in the game.

Garner was part of Manly's under 20s grand final side playing alongside the likes of Tom Trbojevic, Jesse Ramien and Liam Knight.

He then moved to the Sydney Roosters ahead of the 2017 season with a whole lot of promise. He only lasted a year.

"I got flicked from there because I probably wasn't in the right shape I should've been," Garner said.

"I was too small and I don't think my head was right. I wasn't mentally invested in it or knew the opportunity I had at the time.

"Once I left that scene in an elite training group I realised what I lost and worked hard to get back to that.

"You sort of get thrown into this environment. I felt like I belonged there but I didn't work hard while I was there to stay."

Garner isn't the first and won't be the last player not to take an opportunity when they arise.

In came the third time lucky offer, from the Wests Tigers. But the catch was only a part-time contract. In between training of an afternoon, Garner was a full-time lawn mower.

"Once I lost that and had to go back to [a job] I appreciate it [now]," Garner reflected.

"I was getting up about 5-5.30am, started work at 7 and was getting home at 9.30. You have dinner and go to bed. I used to do that five days a week.

"Now I've got so much free time on my hands I don't know what to do with myself. I appreciate where I am a lot more now. You hang around these boys and then see the part-time boys do what I did. It doesn't give me nightmares but it doesn't give me good memories that's for sure."

A long-term injury to Chris Lawrence opens the door for Garner to expand on his seven career games in the 2019 Telstra Premiership.

"Chris is one of the better line-running back rowers in the comp so I've watched plenty of him at training," Garner said.

"He's a good player to do your trade under and does all the little things right I like to do. I let myself down in a couple of small aspects [on the weekend] that people don't see.

"But I've spoken to the coaches and want to rectify that this weekend."