MITCH Black set some goals at the start of the rugby league season.
The Nabiac local had made the move from St Clare's High School in Taree to finish year 12 with St Mary's Gateshead at Newcastle primarily to link with the Newcastle Knights SG Ball (under 18s).
He had been part of the Knights' system since his Harold Matthews Shield (under 16) years, although he played his early junior football with Taree Panthers.
He had a run with Taree City's under 18s when commitments allowed.
"One of my goals was to play consistent footy with the SG (Ball) this year,'' he said.
"Then I wanted to make the NSW Combined Catholic Colleges team.''
Last on the list was gaining selection in the Australian Schoolboys side for the one-off test against New Zealand at Redcliffe on September 29. Black, 18, can put a tick against every box, as he has been named as hooker for the Australian team.
The Australian championships were played in Canberra in mid-July, in what Black described as 'freezing weather.'
NSW CCC made the final but were well beaten by Queensland.
"It wasn't real good - the score was 36-10 or 36-12 or something,'' he said.
Black wasn't sure if he'd done enough to make the national side. He admits it was surreal when his name was read out.
"I didn't want to be too upset if I didn't make it, so I tried not to think too much about it. So I guess I was more relieved when I found out I'd been selected,'' he explained.
The Knights had what Black described as a 'pretty rough year,' in SG Ball, missing a finals berth.
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He's now in the under 20s squad and has played a few games off the bench. He's enjoyed the experience.
"It's more physical,'' he said of the 20s.
"And the games are quicker, but because I've been playing off the bench fitness hasn't really been a problem.''
Black lives in a townhouse with a group of fellow Knights. He said life's pretty good at the moment.
"We have carers - the parents of one of the boys, who cook meals for us of a night. I enjoying chillin' with the boys. It's fun, It's good,'' he smiled.
Black is also convinced he made the right decision to move to Newcastle.
"My football's improved...like I said, I set myself the goals and I've pretty well cracked them.''
He'll finish year 12 this year and then the Knights will help him find employment. He has two more seasons with the Knights and his main ambition for 2020 will be to seal a berth in the under 20s run-on side.
"After that I'll guess I'll see what happens,'' he said.