Whitchurch focused on proving himself ready at Broncos
AARON Whitchurch says he is excited by Brisbane mentor Wayne Bennett's advice for a positional change after being thrown a lifeline by the super coach.
The former junior Sunshine Coast representative signed with the Brisbane Broncos straight out of high school and spent three years with the club before being let go at the end of 2013 after a potentially career-ending back injury.
He made three NRL appearances for the club before his 21st birthday, but failed to earn another contract after spending the majority of 2012-13 inside the rehab room following surgery.
Left without a "job", the 22-year-old signed with Intrust Super Cup side Redcliffe and took a position laying turf to meet his mortgage repayments.
It was a far different scenario to the one he found himself in 18 months prior when he was making inroads into his dream of becoming a consistent NRL player.
"Having a mortgage to pay made for a pretty tough time, but I think I am a lot better for it," Whitchurch said.
"After going through all of that you appreciate it more and you get a bit of perspective of what life is like away from footy.
"Then I was meant to sign with the Knights at the end of 2013, but it didn't work out."
The barnstorming centre was already on Wayne Bennett's radar and set up a meeting with the Brisbane master coach, who offered him a one-year, second-tier contract.
He has been training at Redhill ever since.
Bennett took him aside during his first training session and informed the 104kg Whitchurch that he viewed him as a second-rower.
"I was already a pretty big outside-back so the second row was probably a better option for me," Whitchurch said.
"Wayne said that is where he sees me and I am excited at the opportunity to play in a new position."
With a clean bill of health, Whitchurch said he would do everything he could to break into the Broncos' top 17 in the coming season.
"I would love to play NRL again, but for now I just have to prove myself on the training paddock," he said.
"I need to make sure I am ready to help the team out if they need me."
Whitchurch said he was surprised at how jovial new coach Bennett was around the team.
"He is a very funny guy and probably not what you would expect," he said.
"But he keeps you accountable at training and is pretty particular about what he wants from every-one."