Three years ago, Canowindra's Regan Hughes was folding Oscar Thorburn in half at CSU's Diggings Oval.
On Sunday, the 23-year-old bagged a try in his Western Suburbs debut a sthe black and whites destroyed Blacktown 46-6 in the NSW Cup.
It's been a meteoric rise for the engineering student as he's juggling full-time studies with a part-time rugby league career, a workload that he's handling incredibly well.
Hughes was making waves in the Central West at both the Canowindra Tigers and Mitchell Mustards, before linking with Ryde Eastwood Hawks in the Sydney Shield.
Next was a brief stint with Ryde in the Ron Massey Cup, and after he handled that step-up with class, Magpies' coach Ben Gardner just had to give him a run.
And even though he'd spent the majority of his semi-pro career playing out wide, he was pulled off the bench to play in the front row at Stadium Australia.
But the positional switch didn't stop him from sniffing out a meat pie as he scored a cracking four-pointer with just his second touch of the footy.
Magpies were enjoying a 24-6 buffer when halfback Jock Madden put up a wobbly bomb from his own 40-metre line, a kick that found open pasture about 10 metres in front of Blacktown's winger.
It looked like it would fall into the lap of the the Sea Eagles, but when the ball hit the turf, Regan got a bounce straight from room service as it seamlessly landed in his breadbasket.
He still had a tonne of work to do, but was able to power past both defenders before planting the ball under the sticks.
I couldn't believe it.Regan Hughes.
"I couldn't believe it," Hughes said.
"I was pretty fresh on the field so I was chasing the kick hard and when the ball bounced, I told myself I could be in for a shot.
"Mum and Dad came down to watch so it felt awesome."
It was a bit of a surprise to see Hughes playing in the middle of the park, especially after he did so well on the edge in the lower grades.
However, after the coach got eyes on him at training, it was an easy decision to throw him in with the big boys.
"It's just been a progression over the last few weeks," he said.
"He liked me more in the middle and I probably prefer it as well. It's easier to get a touch on the ball and you can make more tackles and just stay in the middle."
He only got 30 minutes of playing time but Hughes is content with the strides he's making and hopes to take on rugby league full-time after finishing his degree in a few months.
"I'm only a part-time player at the moment but the next step would be signing a full-time contract," he said.
"Part time works for me at the moment because I still need to get my degree but the plan is to pursue it harder once I've finished studying."
He's not playing footy at Tigertown anymore but Hughes has a keen eye on Canowindra as the Woodbridge Cup juggernaut is a perfect three-from-three after knocking off Trundle 24-20.
His brothers Brydon and Curtis are still playing with the club. "I've been following them," he said.
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