Playing out most of 2017 in the nib Newcastle Knights’ SG Ball side, young Knights Luke Huth and Mat Croker also registered several appearances with the Club’s Under 20 side.
The pair have now graduated to the 20s squad full time and have also earned themselves another three years on their contract.
“It is definitely good that my contract has been extended to 2020 and hopefully I’ll build a pathway in the next couple of years, so see how it goes,” said Huth.
Croker added, “It is good to be secure and I am really happy here and am settled down in Newcastle.
“You just have a bit more sustainability and you know where you are and it helps you with your footy and most of your mentality.”
18-year-old Huth admits the opportunity to play for the Under 20s this year was invaluable towards his development.
“To step up from SG Ball to the 20s is a big step in pace so it’s definitely good to have that experience coming into next year,” Huth commented.
With a number of players being promoted to the Reserve Grade squad, a new roster of players have progressed to the Under 20s side.
“There is definitely a lot of new faces in the squad for next season, but like most years we should mould together when the season rolls around,” explained Huth.
“It is a very diverse group, a lot of players from all over different clubs and it will be interesting to see how we all come together and form as a group and hopefully we can strengthen that bond.”
Croker said, “We got blokes from the Storm, one bloke from up Queensland way so it is good because we have a lot of diversity in the team.
“The boys have played with different players and different clubs and they have a new perspective on the way we play.”
Croker, who was last season’s Under 18 captain, would again like to take up a leadership within the side.
“I really want to come into the year and have a really good pre-season, become a bit of a leader in the group and then lead forward,” he commented.
“I want to also get as many games as I can and hopefully start a lot of those games.”
With a taste of the Under 20s already, Croker knows he’ll have to step up his game.
“Definitely the physicality is a lot more and you have to step yourself up,” Croker stated.
“The speed is different as well and a lot of players know what they are doing in their job so you’ve really got to be switched on for it.”
Not just tough for the NRL players, the young Knights have also found pre-season training to be just as challenging.
Huth has plans to work hard early on to achieve a few goals closer to the start of season.
“Hopefully put on a bit of strength and weight on coming in towards the season,” he said.
“Definitely try to establish a starting spot, just as long as I’m stringing a few decent performances together.
“Just take it as it comes and work hard to get into some good form.”