Canterbury hooker Craig Garvey has been urged to embrace his second shot at the NRL after being handed an opportunity to write his own redemption story.
Garvey looks set to receive an extended run in the Bulldogs No.9 jumper with first-choice dummy-half Michael Lichaa facing a long stint on the sidelines.
Lichaa is expected to be out for three months with a torn meniscus but could miss the rest of the season, opening the door for Garvey to stake his claim as a first-grade footballer.
Two years ago Garvey nearly threw away his chance at an NRL career when he was convicted of assault after repeatedly punching a fellow patron at an Illawarra pub.
He narrowly avoided prison, was sentenced to 600 hours community service and spent nearly a year on the sidelines after being suspended by the Dragons.
After managing just 10 appearance in his three-year tenure at Wollongong, he moved to Belmore with the offer to play second fiddle to Lichaa.
He’ll now be coach Des Hasler’s go-to man at hooker.
Hasler has already talked up Garvey, advising fans to “keep an eye on him if he gets his opportunity.”
The 22-year-old is noted for his speed out of the blocks and big motor and skipper James Graham said they would lose little with Garvey replacing Lichaa.
“It’s obviously disappointing to lose Michael but we’ve got a lot of faith in Craig Garvey,” Graham said.
“He was unlucky not to find himself on the bench for us last week.
“His conditioning is top notch and we’re really pleased with how he’s performed.”
It remains to be seen if he will be used for the full 80 minutes against Penrith on Thursday with the possibility that halves Moses Mbye and Josh Reynolds or versatile back-rower Josh Jackson could spend time at No.9.
Fullback Will Hopoate said he expected Garvey’s playing style to suit the Bulldogs’ forward-orientated game plan.
“He’s dynamic and quick out of dummy-half. He’ll be a plus for us, especially off the back of our pack who try to get us quick play the balls,” Hopoate said.