Bulldogs forward Adam Elliott is 'winging' fatherhood on the advice of someone who should know - teammate, and father of four, Will Hopoate.
Elliott and his partner Robyn welcomed their first child, Lennex, into the world on May 12 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a tough goodbye when Elliott had to leave the pair in Darwin with Robyn's side of the family. Mother and child will remain in the Northern Territory until it is safe for Lennex to fly to Sydney.
"Hop [Hopoate] has four babies under the age of four. I'm next to him in the change room and I thought I'd ask him for advice, he's obviously a great dad," Elliott said.
"'I said Hop what advice do you have for me?', and he said, 'just wing it mate'.
"I'm over the moon but it's obviously pretty tough for me to be away from them.
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"The medical advice is that he can't come back until he has had his vaccinations done and he's built up his immune system.
"They've all said the earliest he can get the vaccination is six weeks then we want to wait another week after that until they can come down."
A call from coach Dean Pay following the baby's arrival on May 12 allowed Elliott to remain in Darwin for a few extra days.
"I was lucky that he came when he did because I was pushing it close to getting back in time for round 3.
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"But then Dean called me and said I didn't have to come back until the 21st, which I was stoked about as I got to spend some good quality time with my little boy and Robyn.
"I really appreciate the Bulldogs support and Dean giving me that extra time up there with my family, time that I will forever cherish."
The 25-year-old said it’s been hard grinding it out in Sydney with his new family not around, but it's also fuelled the fire for the Bulldogs clash against the Manly Sea Eagles on Sunday.
"I'm down here doing it for them," Elliott said.
"It's a bit of a hard stint for me now but luckily there is Zoom and FaceTime. We've been on that flat chat.
"Even though it is a bit of a sacrifice for me and hard for us being apart, it's probably best for her and Lennex, in the long run, to be up there surrounded by so much family.
"I've got to look at it as a positive. I can still come down here and do what I love.
"I'm using it as motivation to provide for my family and I'll have a story for him when he's a bit older, that I had to shoot off down here in the middle of a pandemic and play some footy while he was up there with mum."