After admitting he expected to spend at least the first month of the season with the Illawarra Cutters, Dragons halfback Sam Williams is determined to make the most of his crack at the Dragons No 7 on Saturday.
Williams steeled himself for a long, hard slog back to first grade with the Cutters after he was overlooked by coach Steve Price for the Dragons round one clash with the Wests Tigers.
The man chosen in his place, 30-year-old Michael Witt, made a promising start to his Dragons career, linking with boom five-eighth Gareth Widdop for a try before he was forced from the field with a dislocated shoulder.
While the injury gave Williams a reprieve, the 22-year-old may only have one chance to press his case for regular selection, with Witt expected to return to the field sooner than expected, maybe even next week.
"I had a pretty big off-season and worked really hard and first week Witty got the spot but that's no reason to put your head down," Williams said.
"Naturally it's disappointing but that's just the way it goes ... that's footy.
"This week I've got an opportunity and hopefully I can play well and we can get the win."
Williams is no stranger to the second-tier competition, with his 42 NRL appearances for the Canberra Raiders since his debut in 2011 peppered with stints in the NSW Cup.
He feels he is better able to deal with the setback this time round.
"I certainly knew that one good game wasn't going to get me back in, so I was prepared to go back there [NSW Cup] and try to play well," he said.
"I'm not the first bloke who's played reserve grade; you've just got to go back there, play well and have a good attitude.
"I really tried to bring enthusiasm to that Cutters team and this weekend coming into a new team as well, hopefully that enthusiasm can come through again."
Witt's injury will not require surgery, meaning Williams will have to make quick work of his chance if he wants to cement the No 7 long-term.
Despite Witt breathing down his neck, Williams said he doesn't feel any added pressure to perform.
"I don't think there's too much extra pressure," he said.
"I think playing in the NRL there's always pressure and there's always expectation.
"Having one game in isn't going to change anything.
"It's all about opportunity. Now I've got one so I'm just focusing on this weekend."