Broncos forward Jamil Hopoate put on five kilos of muscle in the past 12 months, steeling himself for his NRL debut against the Cowboys on Friday night.
The 25-year-old forward has been named on the bench for Brisbane for the clash in Townsville in the wake of skipper Alex Glenn being ruled out with a hamstring injury.
When Hopoate secured a two-year deal with the Broncos last year he elected to make the most of an opportunity that came relatively late in his career.
He was weighing in at 91 kilograms then, but now tips the scales at 96kg. The added bulk has given the versatile lock more of a physical presence.
Hopoate was formerly signed by current Broncos general manager of football operations Peter Nolan to play Parramatta under-20s when he was the recruitment chief at the Eels.
He was subsequently let go by the Eels and then went through some tough times after returning to Manly.
His off-field troubles have been well documented and it is a credit to Hopoate that he has transformed his life since spending nine months in prison after assaulting a man outside a Sydney hotel in 2014.
After making his club debut for the Broncos in a trial last year Hopoate told NRL.com that "no-one wants to go through that [in prison] but it made me the man I am today".
That man is now a loving father, who spoke to NRL.com again after signing a two-year deal with Brisbane when he vowed to make the most of the chance he'd been given.
His daughter Nala has been inspirational for Hopoate, adding to his determination to make him a good father, and man.
"My daughter flicked a switch on for me. She made the light bulb turn on," Hopoate said.
"I was young when I went to jail and I could have come out and kept partying but she is the one that made me get back on the straight and narrow."
Hopoate joined the Redcliffe Dolphins in 2018 and was a key man in the Intrust Super Cup premiership win under head coach Adam Mogg.
"I just like his versatility. He can play on the edge or in the middle although I think his best position is lock forward," Mogg told NRL.com.
“There is no doubt he could play a bit of No.9 in the NRL, although you’d have trouble getting the ball off him.
"His ability to compete is Jamil's other great asset. There are a couple of games for us last year where his work rate was high and his willingness to compete kept us in games.
"I am super stoked that he gets his chance to play NRL and we are really proud of him as a club."
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Mogg said Hopoate's story was a tribute to never giving up and that he had deserved his crack at forging a career at the top level.
"Jamil kept turning up and kept missing out. He came to us in 2018 and had a great season with us," Mogg said.
"This is his second season at the Broncos and I know he’s had a great pre-season so he deserves his opportunity.
"Now it is his time to prove to himself and everyone else that he is an NRL player and fingers crossed he does a great job.
"Jamil is just a really good guy and fun to be around. He trains his backside off and has fun doing it. He is just one of those guys that genuinely loves rugby league."
This week could well be one to savour for Hopoate who is about to celebrate the birth of his second child.