Toby Rudolf always had to take the long way when he was growing up, so it’s fitting his path to the NRL was not as easy as most.
His mum didn’t have a car, so he was forced to ride his bike everywhere as a kid – and lucky to because it gave him a big engine and also taught him the patience to persevere.
At 24, this is his first season of NRL with Cronulla after kicking around in the lower grades before being handed his debut in round one.
“I wouldn’t say patience … just the way things panned out earlier in my career at Souths, I knew I wasn’t done yet – I thought I had more to offer,” he said.
“So whether it’s patience or pure stubbornness in not wanting to give it away, that’s the better way to describe it.
“I just refused to give in or believe that I couldn’t crack it.”
But even after he made his debut with the Sharks and cemented a front row spot in the side, the rollercoaster continued.
He agreed to terms with the Warriors on the day the competition shut down in March, but never signed the contract.
Rudolf was left in limbo until finally signing an extension with the Sharks a fortnight ago, wanting to stay in Sydney on compassionate grounds.
“You can’t really focus on uncertainties – those things just sort of happen the way they happen and you haven’t got much control,” he said.
“So you focus on what you’re doing each week – what’s right in front of you – and not what might come.
“I sort of agreed to terms with the Warriors the day the NRL shut down in late March and then I didn’t officially sign with the Sharks until last week.
“So it was a fair few months of not being entirely sure. I had a rough idea of what was going on but not fully certain.”
And after backflipping on the Warriors, he scored his first NRL try against them last weekend to end their hopes of making the finals in 2020.
After all the years of patience – and sheer stubbornness to achieve it – the moment was as good as he imagined it would be.
“It was just pure ecstasy, adrenaline, elation, all those things. The world’s happiest feeling actually – an absolute rush,” he said.
“That’s why you play the game, to be in those moments, be part of those, and share them with your mates on the field.
“If I could live in that moment for a couple of years, I would.”