FOR a laidback boy from the bush, the Ipswich Jets' intense pre-season training was a lung opener, as much as an eye-opener.
But Dale Dempsey has taken it in his stride and impressed everyone at the Jets with his attitude.
"It's a lot harder but a lot more fun," Dempsey said of the training he's been put through since arriving late last year.
Jets co-coach Walker has been pleasantly surprised with how well Dempsey has handled the transition, but he will have to work his way into the top squad on merit.
"He's only a young lad," Walker said.
"He's going to have to do his time in the lower grades but he's had a good off-season.
"I imagine it's the hardest he's ever trained but he has shown a willingness to never give in.
"He's a wonderful kid too."
Dempsey was one of the many urchins running around in the Dajarra dust when Brendon Marshall, who is a cousin of Dempsey's mother, left to pursue his career as a footballer.
"All I remember is this little skinny kid kicking around," Marshall said. "He's a talented player. He'll get his fitness up and I reckon he'll shine."
But Dempsey is not likely to get too far ahead of himself.
He is willing to work hard and wait for the chances to arise.
"My goal is just to get a spot in the Q Cup squad," he said.
"I'm not really looking any further at the moment.
"Just taking it as it comes."