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How Clune persevered to earn NRL Top 30 contract

Young St George Illawarra Dragons halfback Adam Clune says his ability to persevere through challenging times is a primary reason why he earned a Top 30 NRL contract and now sits just a few games away from a potential NRL debut.

Clune is coming off a breakout 2019 campaign in the Canterbury Cup NSW which saw him produce 28 try-assists and 27 line-break assists in just 22 appearances, and was deservedly crowned Halfback of the Year.

He recently earned a contract extension with the Red V that saw him upgraded into the club’s Top 30 squad, and will provide strong depth for coach Paul Mcgregor in the halves. 

Clune admits there have been challenging times where injuries and doubt instilled from previous coaches has taught him a valuable lesson in perserverance, which has ultimately allowed him to carve out a successful Rugby League career to date.  

"At times it has been tough and at times I just try to think (that) we have our own journeys and our own paths," he told The Short Side Podcast.

"There's been times where I've heard and been told 'the coach thinks your too small' and some times you just cop it on the chin and go 'it is what it is'.

"There's been times over the last few years...and not just with my size but a few injuries back to back...where I thought the body was breaking down a bit...and I thought, is it worth it?

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Adam Clune made the left-edge his own in 2019 🔥 He produced 28 try-assists and 27 line-break assists in just 22 appearances 😳 #canterburycup

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"Alot of people told me 'you're a long time retired' and I (knew) I only got one shot so there were a few set backs and a few things that maybe didn't go my way.

"But it's all been a part of my journey and I'm happy to be where I am now and I'm loving it." 

While the Dragons back-to-back Preliminary Final losses in the Canterbury Cup NSW has been a tough pill to swallow, Clune believes the defeats have provided a silver lining for himself and the playing group.

He is fuelled by an added motivation to return to finals football when he gets his chance to play in 2020, and it’s matched with a “surreal feeling” that a long-awaited first-grade debut could be just a few games away. 

He has a prime opportunity to learn from Queensland Maroons stars Corey Norman and Ben Hunt, and it will no doubt put him in perfect stead to craft his trade and become a better footballer.

"I think for me it's just just about focusing on myself. If they're going to be playing great footy then they're going to hold the position and there's nothing I can do about that," he said. 

"I just have to keep working on my own game and not be worrying about them or looking at them (and worry about their form) because it's not going to benefit me.

"For me it's just about improving my strengths and my weaknesses and just be ready if I get that opportunity then hopefully be willing to take it and if that happens maybe force a few positional changes to keep myself in the team.

"If not, I'm just grateful to be a part of the squad (although) I want to play in the halves and play in first-grade consistently.

"But day in, day out, it's just about trying to work on my own game and be confident in my ability, so If I get the chance than I can put my best foot forward."

The Dragons remain winless to start their 2020 NRL season with losses to the Wests Tigers and Penrith Panthers respectively, but will look to get their season back on track in Round 3 against the Canberra Raiders when the competition returns on 28 May.

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