Dogs flyer Montoya still pinching himself
Exciting Bulldogs winger Marcelo Montoya admits he still has to pinch himself when he gets to training and sees players like the Morris twins and James Graham in the sheds next to him.
The Fijian-born speedster got his chance in Round 2 – scoring a try in a win over the Warriors at Dunedin – courtesy of a shoulder injury to Kerrod Holland and is now trying to take every opportunity presented to him knowing each game could be his last in the top grade for a while.
"I'm still trying to find my feet – more so just the training side of things and getting used to every week playing first grade isn't easy," Montoya told NRL.com.
"This is my first full time pre-season with the squad... I've been very fortunate to get three games under my belt so far.
"For me it's just taking it as it comes. It's a door open for me. We've still got 'Dutchy' (Holland) to come back who's an awesome player and adds a lot to the team.
"Every opportunity I get I'll take it with both hands – If that means I have to go back down to reserve grade and do my part there then I'm grateful to be in the blue and white jersey whether it's in reserve grade or first grade."
Montoya is the first NRL player of Chilean heritage courtesy of his father but his mother's Fijian background means the 21-year-old continues a long line of star Fijian flankers to grace the NRL in recent years.
"My father's from Chile and my mother's Fijian. I was born in Fiji then I moved to Australia when I was three years old, I moved in '98 and been here ever since then," Montoya said of his background.
"I've been at the club since I was 14. I'm 21 now so I've been here for about six or seven years. I've been here for a while, to see some of the older boys play first grade and now to train with them every day [is something] I'm still trying to get used to. It's a crazy experience and I'm just enjoying the ride so far."
So is he still pinching himself when he runs out alongside the likes of Josh and Brett Morris?
"Every day mate!" he laughed.
"I come to training and I walk in the sheds and see the boys and think 'this is crazy'. It's so surreal and I think that's something I'm still trying to come to terms with. It's part of the experience I think, you've got to take it and soak it up. I'm enjoying every bit of it."
A try-scoring debut for Montoya was followed by a horror team loss against Manly that piled pressure on the club before his third game saw a powerful, gritty, morale-boosting win over the Broncos meaning the three-gamer has had as much of an up-and-down start to his top-flight career as one could imagine.
"I was lucky to get the win on my debut in Dunedin and score a try as well but in saying that it's not always the highs in footy, you have to expect those lows and I think we've moved on from that [Manly loss]," he said.
"We got the win on the weekend which is good, we're moving on and trying to stay consistent with that."