A STRONG work ethic and maturity beyond his years has always served Nick Meaney well.
It is why he chose pre-season training over Schoolies Week when the Newcastle Knights NRL team showed interest in him in 2015.
The 23-year-old went on to make his debut at Newcastle in 2018 before joining the Canterbury Bulldogs the following season.
The Ballina Seagulls rugby league product quietly achieved a personal milestone when he recently played his 50th game in the NRL.
"It was a great feeling, I'm always happy to see other guys in our team reach a milestone game," Meaney said.
"It's just one of those little things where you can look back on it after and see that all your hard work is paying off."
Meaney excelled at many sports when he attended St John's College Woodlawn.
He loved basketball and surf lifesaving but switched his focus to rugby league when he made his first grade debut for Ballina as a 16-year-old.
His grandfather Denis Meaney played for Manly and Western Suburbs.
He was also an influential coach and NSW Country selector on the Northern Rivers for many years.
Nick would win two premierships with Ballina in 2014 and 2015 before a move to Newcastle.
It was there he would go on to be selected in NSW under-20s while he was also the National Youth and NSW Cup Player of the Year in the seasons that followed.
"I wasn't one of those kids who just wanted footy over everything else but I always enjoyed it," he said.
"Playing first grade (at Ballina) was a big step-up at the time and I had to put on another 10 kg.
"I went straight to Newcastle after I finished school, I was looking at my future and what I was going to have to do to make it in the NRL.
"I've learned there is a lot of luck involved but you have to be prepared to make sacrifices."
Canterbury has been a tough slog since he joined the club with the team having only won a handful of game in two-and-a-half seasons.
"It's a tough sport, it's physical and the mental side of things is massive," he said.
"A loss hurts at the time but as players we carry that around for days and into the next week.
"You have to be able to turn it around and always be up for the next game.
"It's hard for the whole team when you're not getting the wins, especially when you're all putting the work in."
Meaney is settled off the field in Sydney with his fiancé Shania who is pregnant with their first child, due in October.