Terry Campese heard stories "you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy" as he trekked along the Northern Territory's Larapinta Trail.
The Queanbeyan Blues player-coach was among a group of 19 young people and nine adults completing an eye-opening journey in recent weeks.
The ex-Canberra Raiders captain and a group of others took part on the life-changing trip in hopes to build the confidence and self worth of each individual.
"The little things that you think are a huge issue mean really nothing, considering some of those stories that some of these people have gone through," Campese said.
"It was something that makes you enjoy every day now, waking up with a smile and just tackling the day.
"To see the growth in these young kids, some of them have been from some of the most traumatised backgrounds that you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
"I'll keep that with me for the rest of my life with the highs and lows every day."
Campese returned to Queanbeyan just in time to play with the Blues for the first time since round two after a knee injury kept him sidelined for the bulk of the Canberra Raiders Cup season.
It's fair to say the positive-minded Campese picked up from where he left off, securing a huge 42-10 upset over the West Belconnen Warriors on Saturday afternoon at Seiffert Oval.
Campese injected himself into the game early, controlling the field and finding space in the seventh minute to break through and set up his fullback Matthew Parsons to open the scoring.
"I was getting fairly tired at times especially defending in that first half, but it's just good to be back out there, I've been waiting a fair while," Campese said.
The Warriors men hadn't shown up on the day, and coach Matt Gaffa tried to alter the players' attitudes at half-time after they had slumped to a 22-point deficit at the break.
"In a way it can be good to have losses like this, it keeps everyone on their toes, they know we need to train hard and work hard, turn up and play with a good attitude," the defeated coach said.
"We've got to keep improving, I've got to keep improving myself and I've got to keep getting the best out of these guys every week,
"The focus for the end of the year is finals, and hopefully we get enough wins and we do make it."
With only six games remaining until finals, the competition is tight as the bottom sides fight for a finals spot. Gungahlin got the better of Tuggeranong, and Belconnen toppled Yass in a high-scoring affair while Woden and Goulburn fought out a valiant draw.
AT A GLANCE
Canberra Raiders Cup round 11: GUNGAHLIN BULLS 36 (K Kenny 2, T Eldridge, L Thomson, R O'Sullivan, J Allen, N Saddler tries; L Thomson 4 goals) bt TUGGERANONG BUSHRANGERS 26 (W Alexander-McCarthy, D Fuka, C Purcell, J Billing, P Birch tries; L Oakley 3 goals)
QUEANBEYAN BLUES 42 (M Parsons 4, R Holani 2, I Latu tries; T Campese 6, M Parsons goals) bt WEST BELCONNEN WARRIORS 10 ( M Uasi 2 tries; B Graham goal)
WODEN VALLEY RAMS 28 (C Bush 2, L Eveston, A Kawiri, J McDonald tries; A Kawiri 4 goal) drew with GOULBURN CITY BULLDOGS 28 (S Cummins, M Flack, J Little, J Roberts, B Arnall tries; I Walker 4 goals)
BELCONNEN UNITED SHARKS 44 (M Woolnough 3, L Kaloutolu, P Amponn-Nyamekye, I Bell, N Ngere, S Tupuola tries; C Woolnough 3, M Woolnough 3 goals) bt YASS MAGPIES 22 (N Limoni 2, C Harris, M Vanisi tries; S Davis 3 goals)
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