Bulldogs rising star Aaron Schoupp learned the reality of professional sport the hard way when the Dragons told him that there was no space for him at the club for his near future.
Growing up in the Illawarra region, Schoupp was a Dragons junior and was a part of the 2019 Dragons SG Ball side that took out the premiership that year.
Despite growing up in Red V heartland, Schoupp grew up as an eager Bulldogs supporter courtesy of his father and pop, making his decision to head to Belmore that much easier.
Leading into the 2021 season, Canterbury offered Schoupp a $1,000-a-week train-and-trial deal.
“The Dragons said there was nothing really for me going forward. I could have stayed as a back-up player, but I sat down with my manager and the Bulldogs came knocking on the door,” Schoupp told Fox Sports.
“I haven’t looked back since.
“I took the train-and-trial as an opportunity to prove to people that I belong in the NRL.”
Within his first six games with Canterbury's NSW Cup side, the 20-year-old had scored four tries, averaged four tackle busts and clocked up 150 running metres per game.
Due to consistent form, the Bulldogs coaching staff had no choice but to place the youngster in the NRL side, making his debut against the Titans in Round 11 last season.
Schoupp played a total of 13 NRL games in the 2021 season and averaged 132 metres per game. However, his season highlight was lining up against his hero Josh Morris.
“I’ve never met him before, but I was lucky enough to verse him last year when he was at the Roosters and I got to go one-on-one with him which is pretty special,” he said.
“They won the game so I guess he won that battle.”
His hard work was rewarded in September last year with a three-year deal, which gave Schoupp a sense of security for the future.
Schoupp will be making his return on Monday ahead of schedule against the Knights after returning from a full rotator cuff repair.