By his own admission, Josh Curran needed a mindset shift to cement himself in the NRL.
After making his debut for the Sydney Roosters in 2019, the 22-year-old Warriors back-rower came of age and delivered on his long-touted potential to finish last season.
A defensive workhorse rated highly by coach Nathan Brown, Curran credits a more disciplined approach as the key to becoming a regular first-grade starter.
"The first couple years of my career, I kind of just took it for granted," Curran told AAP.
"Looking back on it now, I didn't take it too serious. I thought it was just a normal thing to do.
"But I pulled my head in last year and I had a good talk to Brownie when he first came over. He told me what he thought of me and gave me a lot of confidence.
"I pulled my head in and started playing some good footy at the back-end of the year."
Curran again expects to split time between playing on the edge and as a ball-playing lock in 2022, eager to form a connection with returning halfback Shaun Johnson.
A proud Dharug man, the forward is hoping to represent the Indigenous All Stars for a third consecutive year against their Maori counterparts at Sydney's CommBank Stadium on February 12.
While some clubs are reportedly concerned about releasing players for the special fixture due to the COVID-19 situation, NRL CEO Andrew Abdo has confirmed the game will go ahead.
As with most of his Warriors teammates at their Redcliffe base, Curran contracted coronavirus in early January. He quickly recovered and wouldn't hesitate to play in the All Stars match.
"We'll all be fit and ready. I believe if we had a game in two weeks' time, we'd be ready for it," Curran, who had few ill-effects from the virus aside from "tired" lungs when he returned to training, said.
"We've just got to see what happens.
"(Nathan Brown) was more than happy for me to play. He knows how much my Indigenous culture means to me and he knows what the game means to me.
"I spoke to Mum and Dad about it and said it'd be a game I'd love to play every year. It means so much to me and hopefully I get to play it again this year."
Australian Associated Press