During the pre-season Jaelen Feeney has been learning the ropes at fullback, with the aim to transition into the backline after a successful season playing in the halves for the premiership winning NSW Cup Newcastle Knights.
The 21-year-old, who heads into his second year of full-time training with the NRL squad, intends to embrace the new opportunity and hopes it will lead to a first grade debut in 2016.
“I’m very happy and excited and it’s something different,” Feeney told Knights TV on his return to training after the Christmas break.
“The coaches have put some faith in me.
“It’s a new opportunity and if I can nail some stuff down, I think I’ll be sweet.”
As the Knights approach the 2016 trial period, Feeney is eager to test himself at the highly anticipated Auckland Nines tournament hosted at Eden Park on February 6 and 7.
“It’s a little bit exciting about the Nines and playing in the trials,” he said.
“My style of footy fits the Nines so I can’t wait to play in that.”
Feeney was dealt a setback at the beginning of 2015 when he injured his arm in one of the Knights’ trials played at Wauchope. He hopes if he remains fit and healthy this year, it will present him a better chance to make personal progress when the new season kicks off.
“Hopefully I play all the trials this year and keep progressing to Round 1,” he said.
“To crack an NRL debut would be good and hopefully play in the Nines as I think it would be exciting to play in that competition.
“I just want to get through all the trials and have an injury free year."
A particularly rigorous pre-season under new coach Nathan Brown is beginning to see important development in the playing squad with Feeney optimistic his dedication will pay off.
“It’s been very hard and the pre-season has been tough with long days. They (coaching staff) are making us work, which is good,” he said.
“The feeling is good at the moment and everyone is working hard and feels as if everything is improving.
“You can just see it with us improving in weights and out on the field.
“It’s all the little technical stuff that Bumper (Mark Andrews) and Browny have brought into it.”
The Nerang Roosters junior says he feels refreshed after the Christmas break and is ready for the intensity to rise as the Club’s trials approach in less than four weeks.
“I’m feeling good. I got to go home for about five days and got to relax and play some golf and got to come back in what I think is good shape,” he said.
“I ate well and am feeling really good to be back.
“In what is my second year of pre-season with the NRL, I feel more comfortable and am feeling better out there.”