Toby Rudolf was just six years old when Brad Fittler and the Sydney Roosters won the 2002 Grand Final and it was at that moment that he realised he wanted to pursue a Rugby League career.
That childhood dream became a reality in Round One of the NRL when Rudolf ran out for Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks against South Sydney to put a horror two years behind him which had been dominated by his recovery from an ACL injury.
“I can’t even explain it, it’s something I’ve been waiting for since I was young, watching Freddy (Brad) Fittler score a try and winning the 2002 Grand Final and thinking I wanted that to be me,” Rudolf told NSWRL.com.au.
“Then going out and running in front of your family and your friends, especially against the team I was at previously and knew the whole team pretty well.
“It was just the most memorable experience of my life and something I won’t ever forget.”
Just over two weeks later and Rudolf now joins the rest of Rugby League community in the great unknown, with the competition suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s a radical turnaround given his strong start to the 2020 campaign but despite the current circumstances, he remains determined to work hard at his craft behind closed doors.
“Definitely for me, playing consistently in first-grade and holding that spot is a goal, and eventually breaking into the starting side if the opportunity comes up,” Rudolf said.
"I really want to play as good as I can for the Sharks.
“You play to win the competition, not to come second.”
In his two NRL appearances, Rudolf has averaged 83m and 28 tackles in just 36 minutes of game time.