As the son of school teachers, Cameron McInnes has spent his life learning.
Learning from his parents and teachers at school and from his coaches and teammates on the football field.
On Wednesday, as McInnes stood at Hayes Park Public School, the roles had been reversed. No longer a student, McInnes is now a teacher, imparting his wisdom at the launch of St George Illawarra's 'The Best You Can Be' health and well-being community program.
McInnes' teaching role isn't limited to the classroom, however. A member of the Dragons leadership group, and now a co-captain due to Gareth Widdop's absence, McInnes has been imparting lessons to the club's crop of emerging players.
Having learnt from some of the best in the NRL, he's confident he has the experience to help the likes of Blake Lawrie and Josh Kerr develop into future stars.
"That's the transition you go through as a player," McInnes said. "You feel like you want to give the young kids what you had, because I was very lucky that period I came through at Souths, they had a lot of success, a lot of great players, they all made me feel like I was worthy.
"When I was a young guy coming through at Souths, I was lucky to have guys like Sam Burgess, Greg Inglis and Isaac Luke there, guys that I looked up to, that made me feel I was ready for it.
"As a young guy, when you feel that from guys who have done it already, it gives you that lift, because you've got guys who are experienced and know what they're talking about showing that belief in you. I think it's very important, it's something I take very seriously."
The Dragons have experienced a challenging start to the season, with coach Paul McGregor forced to play a number of emerging talents.
Lawrie and Jacob Host have each played all four matches while Kerr made his debut in round two against the Rabbitohs.
The club's depth is set to be tested even further with Korbin Sims out for up to eight weeks after breaking his forearm and Host under an injury cloud. McInnes said the ability for each player to step up when called upon is a sign of the club's culture.
"That's what I love about our team, we have lost a couple of key players and it's happened over my time at the club, but we're a fighting team. A couple of guys have got opportunities, Blake Lawrie starting at no. 13, he's done a great job, the way that he's been able to step in and perform so well.
"Whoever Mary picks will do the job for us because that's the culture we've created. It's about working hard for each other and we all have faith in anyone who comes in our team and it's very good to be in a squad like that where everyone backs each other."
McInnes' comments come as St George Illawarra prepare to make amends for one of the low-lights of their 2018 season. The round 24 38-0 drubbing by the Bulldogs at Jubilee Oval.
With the Bulldogs playing tough the past two weeks, McInnes knows the Dragons must be on their toes if they are to avoid a repeat of last year.
"You always try to leave last season where it is," McInnes said. "But every time we play at home, we want to play well for our home fans and on that night the performance wasn't good enough. We just want to go out, rip in and perform well."
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