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I’m still rehabbing after an operation on my shoulder at the end of last season, so I was in early for a gym session. Everyone was in by about 6.30am, including Wayne. Some of the guys already knew him because they’d played under him at another club or in representative teams, but plenty of us had never met him.


I was off to the side of the field with the rest of the rehab group getting flogged by the trainer when the team went on for some drills and ball-work. I’m looking at being back in full training just after our Christmas-New Year break.


But when Wayne gathered the players in a circle between drills, we’d move in to hear what was being said. The other coaches were mostly directing the session and he would make some key points. The main one I heard was about keeping that open mind and playing a bit of eyes-up footy.


It’s a long pre-season and it was only day one under Wayne. We’ve still got a lot of shape to develop and it’ll be up to the playmakers to have an influence on how we’re going to go about things on the field as well.


But first impressions are important and my first impression of him is very positive. That’s all I need to worry about.





You have to grow up fast in this game or you’re not going to make it.


I’m 19 years old and have played just 21 games in first grade and I’m already on to my third coach. It hasn’t been disadvantageous to my career. I learnt a lot from Seibs, the same as I did from Michael Maguire before him. They prepared me to handle difficult situations and trusted me to do a job for them.


Madge rang me one Friday morning late in the 2017 season to tell me I was no longer playing under-20s that night – I was making my first-grade debut because Robert Jennings was injured.


You have to grow up fast in this game or you’re not going to make it.


It  was a bit of a shock and I was a bit nervous, but I knew I’d done the work. Madge had been running me with the first-grade side in training. I felt a part of it. I believed I could handle it and I did. I enjoyed my time under Madge’s coaching, even if it wasn’t for long.


Then there was the change of coach to Seibs for last season and he stuck with me. I’d worked with him while he was an assistant to Madge and I thought if the club had decided to change coaches, then he was the right man to come in.


Seibs gave me the chance to cement my spot on the wing and helped me take my game to the next level. But you never know what’s going to happen. You have to be prepared for change and I’ve found the best way to handle that is not to dwell on what’s happened, but just move on and get ready for your next job.


Mine is to have a big pre-season and then put my best foot forward under Wayne Bennett in 2019.



I didn’t feel all that nervous when I met him on Tuesday and I think that was because it was in a training environment and I feel comfortable there. Our club environment teaches us that no-one is above or below you as a person, however I am aware that I’m still a rookie and there’s a load of improvement in my game still yet to come.


That’s why I felt so honoured and privileged when Freddy Fittler named me in the Emerging Blues squad for a one-day training camp on December 13. I’ve been in the State of Origin system for a few years. Danny Buderus coached me in the under-16s and Freddy was his assistant. I was picked for the under-18s but missed out injured, and last year I couldn’t play in the under-20s because I had first-grade commitments.


It’s very humbling to know I’m on Freddy’s radar as a possible future Origin player, but that’s obviously a long way away in my career at the moment. I know I’ve still got a lot of work to do on my game. I have to develop as a player and person to reach those heights.


I was too young to see Freddy play, but I’ve watched a lot of old footage of him and heard a lot about how great a footballer he was. The experience I’ve had working with him has been phenomenal. He’s 100 per cent committed to making NSW the superior Origin team.


Just to get that recognition, the nod from someone like him that I’m at least heading in the right direction, means a lot to me.


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