Sometimes giving your all is not enough. Matt Baker says that's what happened to him, when his NRL dream faded away at the Sydney Roosters.
After some four years of involvement with the Roosters, culminating with under-20 footy at the venerable club, he was not offered a new contract.
Now, after four seasons of first grade in Newcastle with Central, he has returned home to Gunnedah to play for his junior club, the Bulldogs - where his father, Les, was an outstanding winger decades ago.
Baker has returned to Gunnedah for work. And in a trial against Dubbo Macquarie at Kitchener Park on Saturday, it was a clear case of Central's loss is Gunnedah's gain.
The Bulldogs lost an entertaining match 24-10. But Baker, a strapping 26-year-old forward, delivered an eye-catching performance.
His defence was stinging, and for a big man he showed good pace when he streaked down the western side of the field in the latter stages of the clash.
It's a lot of hard work. Out of hundreds, thousands, of kids that get that opportunity, not many people make it through. As you can tell, not everyone's an NRL player.Matt Baker
He usually plays prop or lock, but Bulldogs coach John Hickey put him in the second-row against Dubbo Macquarie for the traditional pre-season game.
Baker described his time at the Roosters as a "good experience". He has "no regrets".
"It was really good," he said. "It was a lot of good influence from a lot of top players. And it's just something you don't get every day. And a lot of high-quality coaching too."
On not playing NRL, he said: "It's the same as anyone, really. It's how much work you put in. You know, right time, right place, right connections.
"It's a lot of hard work. Out of the hundreds, thousands, of kids that get that opportunity, not many people make it through. As you can tell, not everyone's an NRL player."
When asked if he gave his all in pursuit of an NRL contract, he replied: "Yeah, I gave it everything."
As such, he does not dwell on "what could of been" - preferring, instead, to remember the positives of the experience.
Against Dubbo Macquarie, Baker took over as captain when five-eighth Reece Jaeger, who also played under-20s with the Roosters, was carried off with what appeared to be an ankle injury. Jaeger said he heard a "snap".
Gunnedah led 10-6 at halftime after tries to fullback Aaron Donnelly and winger Toby Morris.