Things just keep getting better for young Newcastle Knight Tom Starling.
After taking out the prestigious Andrew Johns Brian Carlson Medal at the Club’s Junior Presentation Awards last month, the 17-year-old made his debut in the Under 20s NYC competition on Saturday afternoon.
The year before, the Harold Matthews hooker swept the 16s awards, picking up both the Player of the Year and the Players' Player.
“It was awesome and something I’ve been looking forward to for ages now and since I started with the Knights,” he said in the sheds after the match at Hunter Stadium.
“It was an honour to receive that award, and to get called up by Pez (coach Troy Pezet) to just train a couple of nights a week for the first couple of weeks, it was awesome.
“Then to just to get mentioned to maybe have a run, before on Friday night for Pez to say I had the green light, it was an awesome feeling.
“All my friends and family were wishing me luck.”
The dynamic dummy half held his own in the Knights side which was missing many of its experienced heads.
“It was good to get out there in the first half and rip in,” he said.
“It was a good win for the boys as well.”
Facing stiff opposition in the Gold Coast Titans, some of whom were three years his senior, was a challenge Starling handled with aplomb.
“It was the pace of the game and the fitness and the physicality of it,” he explained as the main differences to the SG Ball competition.
“The boys really helped me out during the week to get me prepared and the Knights have been really helpful leading me into this.
“It was a really good experience to get out there and play.”