With a breakout 2017 in Reserve Grade, nib Newcastle Knights Nick Meaney will be pushing to continue that momentum next season.
The 20-year-old, who won back-to-back player of the year awards for the Knights NYC and ISP sides, maintains it would be a major accomplishment to run out for first-grade in 2018, and that’s one goal he is working towards.
“An NRL debut would be a massive achievement for myself,” cited Meaney.
“While that’s a big goal, I also need to focus on getting back to Reserve Grade, doing better there and hopefully obtaining my position back at fullback.
“Maybe as the year goes on, I could get bumped up into the first-grade team, but we’ll see what happens.”
While Meaney’s preference is playing at fullback, the youngster has no qualms about going out wide to take up a role on the wing or in the centres.
“Growing up I was used to playing in different positions and getting a feel for what kind of job you’ve got to do,” Meaney explained.
“I would be happy enough to play in the centre or the wing, anywhere really, although fullback is a preference of mine because I like the amount of workload you have to do.
“Running in and organising the team, you can see the whole field and pick up on what other people’s jobs are.”
Competition in the squad is fierce with new recruit Kalyn Ponga ear marked for the fullback role wile Dylan Phythian is set to make his long-awaited return from injury.
“That just makes me a better player with all the competition, and at training we are competing against each other for spots,” Meaney added.
“Kalyn Ponga is a great player and that’s only going to make me even better myself.”
Meaney is off to a good start, blitzing the two-kilometre time trial on return to pre-season training and continuing to impress out on the track.
“On the field is probably a bit more my strength and the running around the track,” Meaney admitted.
“I grew up doing little athletics so that has kind of helped and I’m just trying to get better in the gym.”
The young fullback, who is having his second pre-season training with the NRL squad, wants to make sure he hits a few marks before the start of the 2018 season.
“I have to work on my game, my body and put on weight which helps when you are versing men that weigh 100 plus kilos,” said Meaney.
“Pre-season is pretty hard on our bodies so just keeping healthy, injury free and getting stronger and faster.”
Meaney admits he’ll take advantage of the years of knowledge and experience that is arriving at the Club.
“There is a lot of new people in this year and a majority of them are older players,” Meaney commented.
“Experience helps in training drills and they have a pretty good insight into what you need to do, how to get better and it helps all us younger players.
“It is always good to be around these great players, learning different things even off the field.
“They have been around for many years and they give us little tips that we can do to improve our health and our body fitness.”