Canterbury five-eighth Matt Frawley is all too aware the Bulldogs’ current run of games without Josh Reynolds could be the most important of his young NRL career.
But after two years of waiting in reserve grade, the composed 22-year-old isn’t about to blow his chance by creating a highlights-only reel as he pushes for a future starting spot.
Frawley has been one of the revelations of the 11th-placed Bulldogs’ season in 2017 since making his debut alongside Reynolds against Brisbane in round five.
He has since been a regular part of Canterbury’s 17, coming off the bench when they are at full strength before Reynolds was ruled out for five weeks with a hamstring injury.
How Frawley’s role changes in 2018 is unknown, with Reynolds headed to the Tigers and Kiwi five-eighth Kieran Foran set to arrive.
“Obviously I’m aware of everything that is happening and there is going to be a bit of a reshuffle there,” Frawley said.
“But you can’t look at next year.
“You’ve just got to break it down week to week and not getting too carried away with the big picture.
“I realise it’s an opportunity for me and I want to keep taking my opportunities.”
The secret behind that patient approach is his long run in the NSW Cup, Frawley said.
While most young playmakers are brought out of the attack-first junior system or considered too old to make the cut after graduating, Frawley is an exception.
Unsigned by Canberra, he joined Canterbury at the start of 2015 but was forced to watch on as 18th man a number of times earlier this season before finally getting his chance.
It is that more senior approach he is relying on to push his case to coach Des Hasler.
“Playing against men made me play a more tough grinding style of footy than coming out of 20s, which is all about attack and not building a game,” he said.
“Now I’m playing in first grade you’ve got to rely on that style of play even more.”
Frawley will be in the unusual position of being more experienced in the five-eighth role at NRL level when Canterbury take on Penrith this Sunday.
The Panthers have named regular fullback Matt Moylan at No.6 for the first time in his NRL career, having only played professionally in the halves once in State of Origin.
Frawley said he believed Moylan would be a natural fit there for Penrith.
“It probably doesn’t change too much,” Frawley said.
“He’s a really good ball-player, and he plays as a five-eighth anyway. He runs the show out there, he and (halfback Nathan) Cleary seem to have a good relationship.”