Day one, you’re lined up next to your new teammates, the midday sun blazing down, as you prepare for another lung-torturing series of short distance sprints.
By your side are seasoned men, some more than twice your size with years of experience under belt that’s easy to see from the way they confidently navigate the conditioning drills.
This was the scenario for a number of the rookie Newcastle Knights on Monday who have been selected to experience their first year of NRL pre-season training.
However daunting the situation may seem, for the aspiring first graders, it’s the opportunity of a lifetime to learn, grow and prove they have what it takes to one-day play NRL football.
Brock Lamb started playing football as a fledgling 10-year-old with the Beresfield Bears before moving through to the West Maitland Red Dogs and the Maitland Pickers.
“I was picked up when I was 15 by the Knights and have been here ever since,” Lamb said.
For the 18-year-old, who as a child dreamed of one day playing on the big stage of the NRL, to be invited to take part in NRL pre-season training is major progress.
“It was a different journey I knew I had ahead of me. I was very excited and glad I’m here now,” he said.
The biggest step up he noticed first was defence.
“There’s a lot more contact in the training sessions already,” he said.
“I’m slowly getting used to that and hopefully I will keep getting better at it.”
The gifted NYC half hopes to learn and grow under the leadership of new head coach Nathan Brown.
“He has a lot of knowledge and I hope to pick up the little tricks and traits that he knows,” he said.
“He seems to be a pretty good bloke so I’m glad I’m working under him this year."
NRL pre-season is notorious for pushing players to their physical and mental limits, but it’s a challenge Lamb is determined to overcome.
“The fitness has been hard, but I guess you have to do it, it’s part of the job. I’m enjoying it at the moment,” he said.
Another rookie who hails from the Hunter Valley is Josh King who began playing for the Singleton Greyhounds at the age of 13.
“When I was 17, I came down and started playing for the Knights,” the now 19-year-old said.
“I played SG Ball and two years of Under 20s and now I’m here."
King was pleased and proud to make it through his first session and excited by the valuable chance to develop his game.
“It was very exciting as there’s lots of big names down there to learn off, so I can hopefully better my game even more,” King said.
“To start, I think the conditioning and fitness will be pretty tough.
“Once we get into it I think it will be the bigger players and I guess the size.
“The skill as well. It’s all experience though and I’m excited to get into it.
“At the moment I’m young and can take as much as I can in and to develop my game."
As far as the hard slog goes, King knows it all goes with the territory.
“There are non-negotiable of rugby league, you have to do it and you may as well get in and get it done early," he added.
“ I can take something away from everyone here, especially people like Kade Snowden and Jeremy Smith who have been around a bit longer.
“Even some of the younger guys like Jack Stockwell and Korbin Sims have been really helping me along.”
Stay tuned in the coming weeks as Knights TV follows the young rookies as they progress through their first stint of fulltime NRL pre-season training.