WHEN the Port Macquarie Sharks were celebrating their Group 3 grand final win 10 months ago, Scott Grant would have been forgiven for being a little subdued.
He was recovering from a ruptured posterior cruciate ligament, lateral collateral ligament and a torn IT band that he suffered at the start of 2017.
It required a full knee reconstruction that put him out of action for the best part of two seasons.
But despite the difficult road back to the field for round one of the 2019 season that followed, the 23-year-old never contemplated not returning.
"I wanted to prove a lot of people wrong; that was the main factor driving me," he said.
"I don't think I ever lost the hunger because everyone's got their opinion on what you should and shouldn't do.
"It was about how I had to get back out there and I had plenty of people in my corner, but there are also people who think you're mad going back."
I wanted to prove a lot of people wrong; that was the main factor driving me.Scott Grant
The hunger and motivation that drove the second-rower defined who he was, but he still felt like he had let people down.
"It was my third full year in first grade and I was starting to find my feet, get a bit of a name for myself and all of a sudden you get cracked down," he said.
"I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and I was a first grade footballer."
Despite the exodus of more experienced heads following their 2018 premiership success, Grant never felt like he "needed" to return to the field.
"James Kelly is going to play his 100th game this year and that was a massive part of my motivation," he said.
"The older fellas have done their bit for the club and that's well respected, but I think it's time for a few of us young fellas to stand up and take the reins."
At 23, Grant found himself as one of the more experienced players on the Sharks left edge against Port City a fortnight ago.
"I had an 18-year-old, a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old to my left," he said.
The older fellas have done their bit for the club and that's well respected, but I think it's time for a few of us young fellas to stand up and take the reins.Scott Grant
"The hardest part for us (at the moment) is getting those guys playing tough physically and mentally for 80 minutes.
"That's something we'll be better for in a few years because we are so young."
Port Macquarie are staring down the barrel of five-straight defeats when they host ladder-leaders Macleay Valley on Saturday.
Instead of being daunted by the challenge, Grant welcomed it.
"No one's head is down, we're still training hard and still trying to play to our full potential," he said.
"It's just once we find the little things with young blokes and it clicks we'll be right. We can make a real statement this weekend against Kempsey.
"Everyone knows what they're going to bring and how they play, so I'm excited and I think a lot of the younger fellas are getting more confident each week."
First grade kicks off at 3pm at Regional Stadium.
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