Twelve months ago Nick Meaney was embarking on his first NYC pre-season with the nib Newcastle Knights after winning two first grade premierships with the Ballina Seagulls.
Now the 19-year-old is seven weeks into his maiden NRL pre-season, having claimed the NYC Player of the Year Award for 2016.
Meaney admits he was shocked when he got the call-up to first grade training, but has taken everything in his stride since then.
“At the end of October they contacted me about it and I was pretty surprised,” the fullback told Knights TV.
“I went home for a bit and then came back to Newcastle and got straight into training (ahead of the pre-season).
“I was pretty nervous that I needed to be fitter for pre-season, so I did a lot training to be in the right shape.”
In 2016 Meaney played 23 NYC matches at fullback, averaging five tackle breaks per game and 19 line breaks for the season. It put him in good stead for pre-season training, as he led the squad in early fitness testing.
His raw pace and stamina made him a handful for opposition teams, and now he says the focus is to put on some weight.
“Obviously the boys are a lot bigger in first grade and I’m just getting used to tackling bigger bodies and running at bigger people,” he said.
“I really want to put on weight, obviously it’s a lot easier said than done.”
Currently weighing in at 86kg, Meaney still has plenty of growing in him and now has the benefit of training in the gym with seasoned NRL players.
“The coaching staff are into me about putting on weight, and I have to constantly eat,” he said.
“Another big thing is my talk at training, they’re really hounding me about that and want me to get better.”
This pre-season Meaney has spent quite a bit of time training in the outside backs as well, although he says fullback will always be his primary focus.
“We’re pretty light on outside backs at the moment so I’ve filled in wherever needs filling in,” he said.
“I really enjoy fullback, there’s a lot to do the whole time and there’s a lot of running.
“That sort of suits my build and what kind of player I am.”