Josh Curran has risen to the challenge.
Signed by the Warriors during the 2019 NRL season, the second rower and lock has struggled to find meaningful minutes in the first-grade squad. Now in his second full season with the club, Curran has played in the NRL All Stars game in both 2020 and '21, but has featured just six times for the Warriors.
However, after a challenge laid down by Warriors coach Nathan Brown, Curran has earned his place.
"Brownie and I had been talking a bit and he pretty much said if I get my defence right, he'll give me the opportunity," Curran said.
"I've just been trying to focus on my defence this year and in preseason … just doing a couple of extras on the off days and after training, just getting technique and all the little stuff that's around defence."
Curran was immense on the edge for the Warriors in their 20-14 win over the St George Illawarra Dragons last weekend, racking up 50 tackles and running for more than 140m with plenty of post-contact metres in an 80-minute performance.
"Coach said I was going to play big minutes, but obviously Tohu [Harris] went down with an HIA and I got told I had to hang the last 20 out."
Still just 21, Curran is one of a number of rising talents vying for time at the top in the Warriors squad, alongside the likes of Eliesa Katoa. Curran has been rewarded for his strong game against the Dragons with another start against the Melbourne Storm this weekend.
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Brown has spoken about the importance of the young players in the squad who, while they might not play first-grade every week, are a vital element of any future success the club may have.
"We've had some great players out, but through recruitment and coaching, the people we've replaced them with have just taken over right where the last player has left off," Brown said.
"That's probably a great lesson for any sporting club anywhere in the world – the way the Storm have been able to replace great players in key positions, but replace them with the players within opposed to having to go to the market to try buy high-profile players in key positions.
"We've seen in sport all over the world in different codes that clubs have golden eras and lose great players, then go through a lean period because they don't replace those players."
Debuted Warriors players 22 and under
Paul Turner (halfback) 20
Eliesa Katoa (second row) 21
Josh Curran (second row) 21
Adam Pompey (centre) 22
Chanel Harris-Tavita (halfback) 22
Tom Ale (prop) 22
Sean O'Sullivan (halfback) 22