Senator Glenn Lazarus has used his maiden speech in Canberra to remind Australians they can do anything if they work hard.

In Year 10, Glenn Lazarus was told he’d amount to nothing.

Three decades, a trio of NRL grand final wins and a seat in parliament later, Senator Lazarus used his maiden speech to parliament to prove his teacher wrong.

“Perhaps I wasn’t the best maths student in his class,” he said.

But he reminded that teacher: “Firstly, if you work hard you can achieve anything you want. And secondly, people are influenced by the people they meet.”

Some of those who influenced Senator Lazarus were rugby league greats Wayne Bennett and Tim Sheens – who were both watching at Parliament House on Tuesday. Canberra Raiders coach Ricky Stuart couldn’t make it due to coaching commitments.

It’s through NRL Senator Lazarus met Palmer United Party (PUP) leader, Clive Palmer.

The former prop-forward and father of three was recommended to Mr Palmer by a mutual friend, NRL great, Ron Coote.

Being asked to join PUP was a “surreal and life-changing moment” and the decision wasn’t taken lightly.

But as his former coach Bennett once told him: “You have a choice in life. You can sit back and criticise or you can try to make a difference.”

His focus in parliament will be Queensland and regional and rural Australia.

“If regional and rural Australia is doing well, so is the rest of the country,” he said.

The Queensland senator – known in the NRL community as The Brick With Eyes – has previously admitted feeling more pressure in the Senate than he ever did playing State of Origin.

“I am not afraid to tell you that I am scared,” he told parliament.

“But I am prepared to put this fear aside and say the things that must be said and do the things that must be done.”