Aaron Gray declares he's come out the other side of his prescription medication overdose a better man, but years of adversity have hardened him to fighting for his career.
The South Sydney winger closed the chapter on a difficult seven months on Sunday when he crossed for four tries for City in their 44-30 win over Country in Tamworth.
He proved an unlikely star in his first representative game.
Lying in a hospital bed last September after he and then-Souths teammate Dylan Walker overdosed on painkillers, he feared for his rugby league future.
But Gray revealed it's not the first time he's had to rebuild his career and at just 22, he's had so many surgeries that he's lost track.
He can only estimate the number of time he's had to go under the knife at about seven or eight. Point to somewhere on the lower half of his body, and there's a good chance he's had it operated on - toes, knee, hip and groin.
The most serious was a fractured tibia in his right leg which kept him on the sidelines for eight months when he was 16.
"I didn't even think I'd get a few first grade games to be honest," Gray told AAP.
"I've got a lot more confidence in the way I'm playing and that's come along with my body.
"The body is feeling the best it has and that's given me the confidence to go out there and do more on the field."
Of his prescription medication overdose, he says he's moved on and ready to begin the next chapter of his life.
"It's a big thing and it's been tough," Gray said.
"But I'm sweet pulling out the other side and going in the right direction and that's what I'm going to keep doing."