Players pumped for Perth double header
Zane Musgrove's dad will be in the stands of Perth's brand spanking new stadium next month, watching his son for just the second time in his NRL career at the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Five years ago only a frank chat in the cheap seats of Erskineville Oval kept the Bunnies from sending the talented Kiwi prop back across the ditch.
With his parents based in Western Australia, where they still reside and will take in the Rabbitohs season-opening clash with the Warriors next month, Musgrove almost blew his chance coming through South Sydney's junior system.
After being brought across from his native New Zealand, he lasted one month at esteemed rugby league breeding ground Westfield Sports High before taking up a labouring gig at 16.
Just as Musgrove couldn't cop the nursery that has produced Jarryd Hayne, David Klemmer and a host of others, then-SG Ball coach Arthur Kitinas was ready to deliver the youngster's marching orders.
"I was getting a bit lazy and taking the opportunity I had for granted," Musgrove tells NRL.com.
"I wasn't rocking up to training, Souths nearly sent me home.
"My manager (Wayde Rushton) pretty much saved me, he convinced them, said 'give him one more chance, he'll pull his head in'.
"I'd missed a few days of training and got called over at training when I did eventually turn up. We had a chat in the grandstand, I rocked up a few days late and the coaches were into me.
"They were ready to send me home, but Wayde stepped in and got me one more chance.
"That's when I really realised what kind of chance I had and vowed to turn it around."
Musgrove moved closer to town and the Souths set-up, leaving behind the three hours a day he spent commuting from his auntie's digs in Leumeah.
He put his head down and quickly rose through the ranks before cracking a wrist on debut that was expected to end his 2016 season.
The fact Musgrove got back for the final five games of that year impressed plenty, that he played four of them with another broken wrist, this time on the opposite hand, floored Rabbitohs insiders.
That dedication, a far cry from his teenage years, saw the club extend Musgrove through until the end of 2020 when he was still 19, despite a healthy offer from then premiers Cronulla Sharks.
A starting spot at the expense of George Burgess was his by the end of 2017, when Souths won three of their last four games, and is No.1 on the rising prop's agenda after also earning a Samoan debut at the World Cup.
My main goal this year is to hang onto that starting spot... There's the Burgess boys pushing me for that so it's not going to be easy.Zane Musgrove
It starts with the double-header in Perth in front of his old man, whose work commitments in the west have meant he's only seen Musgrove in action once at first-grade level.
"My folks haven't seen me play all that often to be honest," Musgrove admits.
"My dad has only been to one of my games which was last year when we played the Storm.
"My mum's come to Sydney for a few games, my mum's family is in Sydney so they're the ones that usually get out to the games.
"It will definitely be a proud day for me and the folks that big round one game, they don't get to see me play live too much so that's going to make this game extra special.
"My main goal this year is to hang onto that starting spot, starting in that one. I felt I was a bit inconsistent in my first full year, (in 2016) I got six games before I broke my wrist so getting that full year under my belt, I learned a lot.
"But this season is about being consistent, getting my body right week in, week out and cementing that starting spot."
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