Christian Hazard came to the nib Newcastle Knights this year in hope of being able to crack the NRL and make his debut.
The 23-year-old was noticed by the Club after a red-hot season with the Redcliffe Dolphins in the Queensland Intrust Super Cup last year.
Born in Toowoomba in Queensland, he moved to Taree at about eight-years-old where it all began.
“I moved to Taree and spent most of my junior years there and when I got the opportunity to move down to Sydney when I was 16, I spent a couple of years at Souths (Sydney Rabbitohs),” he said.
“I then got an opportunity at the (Gold Coast) Titans, spent two years there, and then spent two years at Redcliffe so I’ve been around a bit and have enjoyed it.”
2017 was one of his best years playing in the Queensland Cup but he still had to overcome injury.
“I had a great pre-season up there, I didn’t have any injuries for a while, got through a whole pre-season and really enjoyed it,” Hazard maintained.
“I got off to a good start, got picked in the Residents side, but unfortunately did my meniscus half way through the year which put a slump on things. But I worked hard in rehab and got back before the semis so had a pretty good year.”
When Hazard got the call to join the Knights, he admits he couldn’t pass up the opportunity - especially since it was closer to home.
“When Browny (Nathan Brown) rang me up and gave me the opportunity, it was too hard to refuse,” Hazard commented.
“I can be a great utility if I get the chance off the bench or even starting, plus it’s closer to home so I get to shoot home on the weekends with mum and dad and I haven’t been able to do that for four years now.”
And the versatile youngster, who can play at hooker or halfback, never thought he’d end up training with a team full of such decorated players.
“The amount of depth and talent that we have at the Club is just great, there’s competition pretty much for every spot so it’s going to be interesting to see how the year goes and how we go at the start,” added Hazard.
“We’ve got (Mitchell) Pearce on board, I can learn a bit off him, Slade (Griffin) from the Melbourne Storm and Danny (Levi) who is an international player, so I'm getting some tips off them and just taking everything in.”
At just 175cm tall and 83kg, Hazard is not the biggest player but makes up for that in what he offers in talent.
He’s well aware he’ll have to put his best foot forward to achieve his goals in 2018.
“If I can play consistent footy, hopefully I’ll get a crack at NRL sometime in the year.
“While my main goal is to try and crack the NRL this year, realistically I want to have a great start to the season, look after the body, tick the boxes on and off the field and hopefully play every game this year.”
The 23-year-old will also be looking to use the Club's upcoming trial matches to impress coaches.
“I’m going to treat it like it’s actually an NRL game and hopefully have a really good standout performance,” Hazard said.
“I'm not quite sure if they’re going to rest some of the big names but it’ll be good to play with a lot of the players and hopefully get the chance to play with some of the experienced boys."
And, one of the things Hazard was attracted to most before coming to the Club, was the support from devoted red and blues fans.
“Just around the Club and around the place, I can see how much the fans love the Knights team and the brand,” he commented.
“It’s always good to have fans support you no matter what, so it’s great for them to come see us train and to come say hi, it’s a great positive for the Club.”