“It took its toll on me mentally and physically. Lucky enough I did get the shot, but it was hard. I’d packed my bags a lot of times to leave.”
Every time he was about to pack it in his mother, Kim Stojanov, talked him around.
“My mum always used to remind me why I’m up here,” he said.
Which is why Stojanov became so emotional watching on at WIN Stadium when Ramsey scored two tries on debut last weekend against Canberra. Footage of Stojanov cheering on her boy, coupled with the half-time interview she granted Fox Sports, has received about as much airtime as Ramsey’s highlights.
“It was a pretty special debut; all my mates and family came up for it,” Ramsey said.
Ramsey scored two tries against the Raiders and would have earned a hat-trick had Zac Lomax not been offside in the lead-up to a potential third. Every try proved costly to the Freemasons Hotel owned by the family in Molong.
“They had free beers every time I went over for a try,” he said. “I got two. I don’t know how many people were there, but I’d say there were a few free beers going around.”
Ramsey used to earn pocket money working at the pub in his teens.
“I was the dish pig at the parents’ pub coming through,” he said. “I used to do the dishes and be a waiter. It wasn’t too bad; you get a few free Cokes and dinner. There were some perks.”
Already Ramsey has earned a cult following. The Gymea Gorillas junior was the leading try-scorer in the nines, but a shoulder injury that required almost five months of rehab delayed his debut. He has been dubbed Bjorn because of his resemblance to tennis legend Bjorn Borg, although teammates have their own monikers for Ramsey: Ben Hunt calls him Praying Mantis, while Korbin Sims prefers Octopus.
Ramsey will get another opportunity to impress when the Dragons take on the Knights at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday. The 20-year-old has made his mark on the wing, but hopes incoming coach Anthony Griffin will one day be calling him his fullback.
“Fullback is my preferred position,” he said.
“Definitely, that’s what I’m working towards right now.
“I’ve looked up to Billy Slater my whole life. He’s a great player and done so much in the game. The way he does things in attack and defence is what I want to be like. That’s who I’ve looked up to in my whole career.”
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.