HE'S the red v faithful's newest cult hero, but Dragons sensation Cody Ramsey says he lost count of how many times he decided he'd had enough - he'd even packed his bags.
The 20-year-old first grabbed headlines with an eye-catching display at February's NRL Nines, but slipped off the radar when forced to undergo shoulder surgery.
Inside the rehab room, and outside the Dragons bubble, it looked as if Ramsey would have to wait another season to get his first taste of NRL action.
In reality, he thought the life wasn't for him long before that after year squeezing training around full-time work as a mechanical plumber, and all seven and half hours way from home in Molong.
In what goes a long way to explaining the emotion on her face when her son crossed for a first-half double on NRL debut on Saturday, Ramsey said it as mum Kim who convinced him to stick it out.
"I'd packed my bags pretty much," Ramsey said.
"I was getting get up at 4.30 in the morning, getting home a 8.30 at night four days a week for a good year straight. I was living in Heathcote and working at North Ryde at Macquarie Uni, I had to come down [to Wollongong] for training.
"I had no one up here and I was just a bit lost and didn't really know what to do. I wanted to go home a thousand times but mum told me to stick it out. She just told me 'remember why you're there'.
"I think about it all the time, every day, but it's a lot easier now. I wake up at six, I get down here to training and get looked after. It's so good."
The former club under 20s player of the year had his contract extended following his Nines showing but was still outside the bubble as late as July as he continued rehabbing his shoulder.
He was recalled by former coach Paul McGregor and current interim coach Dean Young, but an NRL debut seemed unlikely.
"I didn't know if I'd get the chance to get back because I was outside the bubble," Ramsey said.
"Deano and Mary brought me back in with four weeks left on my shoulder [rehab].
"They just said 'come in and train, do what you do, put in the effort and compete on every play and you'll get there'. When Deano brought me into the office on Tuesday I was expecting to pay my coffee bill to be honest.
"I was shocked, I wasn't expecting it all but I'm so happy all the family were able to come. I think there were 67 people coming from Orange and Molong and I could hear them.
"It's definitely an honour putting on that red and white jersey and playing with some of the players I've looked up to my whole career. To play side by side with them is something I've dreamt of my whole life and I finally got to achieve it."
It was an extra shiny silver lining to a team performance otherwise dubbed "embarrassing" by Young, but he said Ramsey's story was a good one at a club that hasn't had many in recent times.
"He was outstanding... he should've had three tries," Young said.
"He's what this club should be about, a bloke that turns up and tries his hardest at training every day and, as we all saw, he tries that hard in the game.
"It's a good story. Patty Gibson, who coached our SG Ball side with St George, found him out near Orange way and gave him an opportunity on the wing. He's stayed in the system ever since.
"I spoke about it the other day, he was getting up at four o'clock in the morning, working all day, coming down to Wollongong from Sydney and he was the best trainer in under 20s.
"He'd get home late at night and do it all over again. This year we all got excited about what he delivered in the Nines. Then he did his shoulder, but he's fought his way back and he's earned his way into the team through determination and competing at training. He'll be there next week."