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AT an age when most top grade footballers are being consigned to the retirement list, Shane Perry possesses the enthusiasm of a rookie.
The 28-year-old former Canterbury Bulldog thought his NRL days were over when he returned to Queensland Cup side Redcliffe in 2002.
But four years on, the utility half is making up for lost time and thoroughly enjoying himself.
"I feel like I'm 21 again," said Perry, who after an impressive performance for the Broncos during last weekend's 28-20 win against Canberra at Port Macquarie, has retained his place on the bench for tonight's pre-season match against Melbourne Storm at Clive Berghofer Stadium.
"I'm playing each game now as if it is my last," Perry said. "I'm enjoying footy and I'm happy with where I am.
"There are a few blokes who are injured at the moment who have to come back, so we'll just see what happens."
Perry made his NRL debut in 1999 for Wests before linking with the Bulldogs where he became a Reserve Grade regular from 2000-01.
But a lack of opportunity and having family in Brisbane, convinced him to return to Queensland.
Redcliffe's affiliation with the Broncos allowed him to train with the club, who were so impressed that they offered him an NRL lifeline.
"When I first came back, NRL was still a goal, but I also wanted to do well with Redcliffe," Perry said.
"But then the years passed and I thought that it (NRL) was not going to happen."
But Perry came off the bench against Canberra last weekend and didn't look back.
A Perry grubber that set up the first of Brisbane winger Tame Tupou's three tries sparked a run of 28 unanswered points.
Perry said that Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett had already discussed using him as cover for the expected injuries and unavailability during the State-of-Origin series.
Perry said he was looking forward to tonight's game on a ground which holds good memories, despite regularly turning up as a Redcliffe enemy.
"It's a good ground, but it's usually cold here," he laughed. The Broncos-Storm game is scheduled to start at 7.30pm.
This article is courtesy of the Toowoomba Chronicle