Scoring a famous grand final try confirmed North Queensland winger Kyle Feldt’s NRL star status.
Or so he thought.
But after a pre-season honesty session with Cowboys co-captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott, Feldt realised he couldn’t even call himself a professional NRL player.
Feldt, 24, has credited the heart-to-heart with earning a call-up in the Queensland State of Origin squad – albeit on standby for winger Dane Gagai (quad).
Feldt was still buzzing after scoring the last gasp try that sent the 2015 season decider into golden point, eventually sealed by a Thurston field goal.
Then Thurston and Scott sat him down for some pre-season home truths.
He had to stop taking short cuts in his injury rehabilitation.
He had to stay away from the Sizzler buffet.
He had to be a professional.
“That kind of really impacted on me at the start of the year – it was a good wake-up call,” Feldt said.
“I took that on and tried to prove that I can be a first grader.”
Now the Cowboys flyer finds himself rubbing shoulders with Thurston and Scott at the Maroons’ Gold Coast camp for Wednesday’s Origin II.
It comes barely 12 months after he was a regular in the second tier Queensland Cup.
Feldt does not expect to play Origin II with Gagai poised to train with the Maroons for the first time on Sunday.
It is still a shot in the arm for a player who believed the closest he would come to wearing the Maroons jersey was when he ran out for Queensland Residents last year.
“When I was in Q Cup for a good couple of months last year I doubted whether I would make the NRL again,” Feldt said.
“It would always go through my mind.”
The demons loomed again after Feldt blew an Origin I audition with a butter-fingered display in their round-11 NRL win over Brisbane days before Queensland’s team was announced.
Feldt was believed to be a lock for the Maroons before he dropped three balls in 15 minutes in a first-half debacle.
Selectors instead handed Brisbane’s Corey Oates an Origin debut.
“He (Cowboys coach Paul Green) got on top of it straight away,” Feldt said of his error-riddled display.
“He pulled me aside at halftime and said ‘just forget about it, it’s a new half, just go out and redeem yourself’.
“Everyone has a bad game.”