When Kierran Moseley talks of growing up in Cloncurry in far west Queensland there's a mixture of joy and sadness in what he left behind.
He recalls fondly days spent fishing with his uncle and exploring caves adorned with Aboriginal art dating back thousands of years but the Titans hooker has also seen friends unable to pull themselves away from the comforts of home in order to reach their full potential.
When Moseley travelled the almost 800 kilometres east to Townsville – the Northern Territory border was 300km to the west – to finish his schooling he had intended on returning to Cloncurry after completing Year 12 but now knows the significance of the opportunity afforded him to pursue a career in rugby league.
The Panthers lured him away from Cowboys country and he went on to win grand finals in both the under-20s and New South Wales Cup before linking with the Titans last season where he has played 19 of his 20 NRL games to date.
Currently studying to be a youth worker through TAFE, Moseley is becoming more comfortable in front of the media and knows his profile can now be used to encourage other shy Aboriginal kids to dream big.
"A lot of Indigenous kids are real shy. I know for myself, it is pretty hard to get out of your comfort zone and we need to break that," said Moseley, who will wear specially painted boots on Monday night featuring the totem of the area from which he comes from, the wedge-tail eagle.
"It is pretty hard to get that out of them because we are a quiet people so to try and break that would be big but the main thing is seeing what they can actually achieve in life.
"They tend to sit back and not really see much because of the area that we live in, we don't really know what we can achieve.
"At the time when I was moving away, I was always going to go back home after finishing school but when the opportunity came to go down to Penrith I jumped on that.
"Looking back on it now, that was probably the best option I had, to move out of Cloncurry to take this opportunity.
"I'm happy with the life I was brought up in in Cloncurry, it's made me the person that I am today."
Despite his new-found status as an Indigenous All Stars representative the 22-year-old Junior Kangaroo says trips back to Cloncurry are no different to when he grew up there. There are games of footy in the park with kids and swimming at the local pool.
But he also sees the darker side, of friends caught in a cycle where they are unable to look beyond Cloncurry to what might be possible in the wider world.
"Some of my mates still drink and stuff like that; some of my mates are working, some aren't. It's pretty sad me seeing that knowing we all grew up together and all did the same things," he said.
"It's different to the city life. A lot of fishing and you don't really have much of the things that the city kids have.
"The kids still look at me as being Kierran and not being an NRL player which is good. I still play football with all the kids in the park, muck around at the local swimming pool. It's all pretty much the same when I go back, which is a good thing.
"I didn't realise then that the best thing was to get out, I just thought I was going to move to Townsville to play football and I didn't really look at it like that or see myself playing NRL."
With the establishment of the Preston Campbell Foundation earlier this year Moseley is eager to participate in visits to remote communities but also wants to develop a greater understanding into the place where he now calls home, the Gold Coast.
"It is a bit of a different culture here compared with Penrith where there wasn't as many Indigenous guys," Moseley says.
"The programs they run here with the Preston Campbell Foundation, I'm starting to get involved and it is good having a large amount of boys in our team.
"I was talking to Preston a couple of months ago when he was going up to where I'm from, to Mornington Island, Doomadgee which is only about six hours away from where I'm from.
"It would be good for me to learn a bit of the traditional stuff around this area. Meet some elders and talk to some people because I think it's important for us to connect with those sort of people."
This story first appeared on nrl.com.au