When Cody Ramsey returned home to Molong after St George Illawarra's season ended he visited a local park for a kick around and was stunned that dozens of kids turned up.
"All these kids were there to see me and I was like 'far out'," Ramsey said. "I said to maybe three or four kids that I was going to the park and I had a few footballs but I think there was about 50 kids from Molong who turned up. I have never seen so many kids on the field in my whole entire life."
After a stunning two-try debut against Canberra in round 18 and impressive performances against Newcastle and Melbourne, Ramsey has been gaining a lot of attention – and not just among the 2000 residents of the western NSW town where he grew up.
New Dragons coach Anthony Griffin regularly mentions the 20-year-old's name in discussions about his line-up for next season and has ordered him to bulk up by seven kilograms by Christmas.
Weighing in at 83kg at the end of the season, Ramsey has been on a diet that involves eating about every 90 minutes of his waking day, while he spends more time in the gym than doing fitness drills.
Ramsey has a double on debut
"We had a meeting after our last game and his goal for me was to set a weight," Ramsey said. "I was skinny and scrawny so he set me 86kg as my comeback weight [for pre-season training]. I worked pretty hard and got up to about 87 and now I am pushing 90kg for Christmas.
"My main goal is to put on some size and put on some strength because my body is not good enough to maintain a whole NRL season. It needs to be strong, it needs to be bigger and that is just something I need to work on myself.
"I'm eating about every hour-and-a-half – just a sandwich or something and a protein shake in the morning, at lunch time, in the arvo, before you go to bed or just whenever you can fit it in.
"They feed you here [at training] all the time and I am focusing on gym more than I do with fitness because I am already pretty fit. My focus is the gym and eating, and I feel it is paying off."
While fullback remains his preferred position, Ramsey is happy to bide his time on the wing as Matt Dufty has made the No.1 jersey his own after being consistently one of the Dragons' best performers in a disappointing season.
For Ramsey it was a season of mixed fortunes which began at the NRL Nines in Perth, where he was the leading try-scorer of the tournament, included a long lay-off after surgery shoulder and finished with him securing a place in the starting line-up for the final three matches.
"The week that I was coming in to debut I said 'I have barely played much football, I don't know how well I am going to go here'," Ramsey recalled.
"I was feeling pressure but the boys got around me and they said you run circles around us at training and they wouldn't have put you there if they didn't think you could do the job for us.
"I was definitely nervous and I had doubts but you can't really doubt yourself when you come into an NRL debut."
To help him unwind, Ramsey has taken to fishing and he recently bought a boat.
"It's something I got into when I moved here," he said. "I just froth fishing, it's awesome. I've got my boat and it is good mentally just to relax."