One year after kicking stones at his family home in Darwin, Will Chambers will on Friday make history when he becomes the first local product to play a Test in the Northern Territory.
Chambers revealed how he set himself the goal of breaking back into the Australian side after being left out of the Four Nations tournament last year.
He was also hurting after missing out on State of Origin honours in a year where Melbourne lost a heartbreaking grand final to Cronulla.
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“I missed out on everything last year and I was upset with it all,” Chambers said on Tuesday.
“But I just had to put my mind down to it, work hard, and get myself back to playing good footy at the start of the year and I knew everything would take care of itself.
“You want to play at the top level.
“I came back from injury at the start of the year and really wanted to play that first Test for Australia and I was lucky enough to do that.”
With just the one Test from 2015 to his name, Chambers was picked by coach Mal Meninga for this year’s midyear win over New Zealand before keeping his spot for the World Cup.
Chambers knew a tournament-opening win over England would mean history in Darwin.
“I heard early in the year but I knew it was a quarter-final and it wasn’t assured that we were going to be in it,” he said.
“We had to play well against England, had to beat England to make sure that we definitely got it.
“When we beat England in that first fixture, that’s when Mal said we’re definitely playing in Darwin now and I got excited, a bit pumped about it all.”
Hundreds of locals lined up for autographs on Monday, while TIO Stadium is expected to be close to what would be a record capacity crowd of 12,500.
Among them will be Chambers’ family, most of whom have since moved the 1000km west of their home town of Nhulunbuy.
“It will be very emotional for me. I lived 1200km from here and to be playing in a World Cup quarter-final up here is something special,” he said. “It’s something you wouldn’t have even dreamt of.
“I never would’ve thought a rugby league match of this importance would be played in Darwin.
“But to be up here and playing in it is something special and great to see the game’s come along so far.”