When the nib Newcastle Knights take on the Melbourne Storm in their first trial match on Wednesday afternoon, a squad featuring both experience and young talent will get to showcase their skills.
One of the young up-and-comers is 21-year-old Thomas Cronan, who got a pleasant surprise when he was asked to join the trial squad.
“Very unexpected,” an enthusiastic Cronan told Knights TV before the team left Newcastle.
“I haven’t had a lot to do with first grade during the pre-season, but they said I’ve been training hard back in Reserve Grade, so I’m very excited to get a trial down in Melbourne.”
The athletic winger played 12 games for the Knights Reserve Grade side last year after moving to Newcastle from the Canberra Raiders halfway through 2017.
“Those Reserve Grade games definitely gave me a lot of experience,” commented Cronan.
“Under ‘Germ’ (coach Simon Woolford), I have learned a fair bit since I moved up here, but I was very lucky to get as many games as I did, so couldn’t be happier with that.”
Cronan is yet to make his NRL debut, but did get to play in the 2016 and 2017 Auckland Nines for the Raiders, as well as in an NRL trial match against the Knights last year in Queanbeyan.
“It will be very different compared to the Nines… we’ll be playing that very structured sort of football,” he explained.
“Nines is very ad lib, but I think it’s going to be a lot more difficult trying to play to those structures against a very good team in Melbourne.”
However many minutes the youngster is set to get out wide on Wednesday, Cronan is just happy to be out there.
“It’s a fantastic experience… I’m super excited to be going and I’m so happy they picked me to go down.
“Having a trial against a quality team should help me see where I’m at in my career so far.
“It’ll be difficult not having the combinations with a lot of the first grade players because I haven’t played with a lot of them, but I’ll learn on the fly.”
Meanwhile, the winger has predicted Reserve Grade is set to have a big year with plenty of depth in the Club’s ranks.
“It will be pretty hard to get a starting spot in the team, particularly in the outside backs, but I think it’ll be an exciting year for everyone.”