Caption: Team-mates rush in to celebrate the first try of Josh Starling's NRL career. Photo: Action Photos.
Josh Starling credits the competitiveness at training against some of the game’s best forwards as one of the reasons for his turnaround in form this season.
The hard working prop says the recruitment of international forwards Nate Myles and Martin Taupau was the challenge he needed to revitalise his career after 14 appearances last season off the interchange bench.
“I spoke to BJ (Brenton Lawrence) about it because we have been here for a couple of years. It was definitely something we needed, more depth in the forwards,’’ Starling said.
“We have got some great players and I guess it lit a fire under us. We had to have a big pre-season and start all over again.
“You just have to work with each other and work hard against each other at training. We get to train against some of the better forwards of the competition. It helps lift our game because we are tackling them all the time and running plays against them. It lifts your ability and everyone else as well.
“We have got a lot of good players (who) are playing reserve grade at the moment. If you are not firing every week, you don’t want to give the coaches any excuse not to play you. I have just got to stay on top of my game and just keep doing what I’m doing.”
Starling said he felt more comfortable within the team now after 51 games for the Sea Eagles since making his club debut in the opening round of the 2014 season.
“After two years, I feel I deserve my spot to be an NRL player. It has been a long road but I just have to believe in myself and my ability,’’ he added.
Starling said the forward pack still has plenty of work to do to earn the respect of other teams.
“We have only won three games. There are a couple of teams who rolled through us early on. You have got to play a whole season and be dominant to get some good respect from a lot of teams,’’ Starling said.
“Every team is going to challenge us through the middle because at the start of the season, we lacked a little bit there and we were letting teams roll us. We have got a long way to go. You have got to respect other teams as well to get the respect back.”
And as to how he feels now after scoring his first NRL try in the win over the Warriors, Starling tried to keep things level.
"It's been a while. I debuted in 2012 so I've been waiting a long time to get my first one, but glad it finally happened," he said.
"I think (my last try) was in the last round when I still playing for the Bears against Manly at Brookie. That was the last time I scored a 13-on-13 try."
Round 7 Telstra Premiership
Manly v Parramatta
Thursday, April 14, Brookvale Oval, 7.50pm
Buy tickets here