19-year-old hooker Tom Starling has been looking forward to coming back to training, one of several players getting their first taste of an NRL pre-season with the nib Newcastle Knights.
The Central Coast junior, who featured in both the NYC and Reserve Grade squads for 2017, admits he enjoyed the break but was always looking forward to his first day back.
The NSW Origin Under 16s and Under 18s representative's goal is to bulk up before the start of the 2018 season.
“I have to put on a lot of weight, so I’m going to be in the gym a fair few times a week,” Starling explained.
“I'm doing that, improving myself every day, working hard and getting ready for the season.”
Starling has plans to lock down the hooker position in Reserve Grade.
“Whatever happens, I can hopefully cement the number nine in Reserve Grade... or if I play 20s again, just working hard and playing the best footy I can and just enjoying it,” he said.
With a call up to Reserve Grade midway through the 2017 season, Starling maintains he’s been happy with his form and hopes it will continue.
“I was in and out of both sides in the second half of the season and I was happy with the way I was performing,” Starling said.
“I was happy I transitioned well into Reserve Grade and I know what it takes to be a Reserve Grade player now.
“Hopefully I can master that and look forward and beyond from here.”
The young hooker is also looking forward to reuniting with a long-time friend this pre-season.
“I grew up with Connor Watson, he’s my brother's best mate so we were always hanging around him,” smiled Starling.
“It will be exciting to have him here because he is one of my life-long friends.”