Emerging hockey player Sam Wright-Smith is looking forward to defending his home court at the Australian Indoor Hockey Championships in January.
The 16-year-old Shoalhaven High student is typically forced to travel far and wide to play hockey at a high level, but with the Illawarra hosting next year's national competition, Wright-Smith is excited to take to the familiar surface at the Unanderra Hockey Centre.
"It's really good being in Wollongong, close to home," Wright-Smith said. "It's my local court, so I've got to know it very well.
"I love staying at home when I can, we do a lot of travel, but I've been pretty lucky to have a lot of my competitions in NSW."
Wright-Smith will be joined in the NSW boys under 18 team by Connor Tuddenham, while Joel Westblade will play for NSW Blues, the trio earning selection after impressive performances at the recent indoor state championships.
The Illawarra side was unbeaten throughout the group stages, before they fell to New England in the final.
"I was very happy to be selected. I had just come off an injury, the competition was one of the first I'd done since I came back, so to get picked, I was very happy with it."
Wright-Smith was recently recognised for a stellar 2019, named Most Outstanding Representative in Secondary School Sport at the South Coast School Sport Awards.
The teenager is set for another big year, with January's Australian Indoor Championships set to be followed by a tour of South Africa with the Australian All Schools Under 16 team.
Wright-Smith, who plays for UNSW in the Sydney Premier League, said he's looking forward to the challenge of playing against international opponents.
"It's very exciting, I'm a bit nervous, but I'm looking forward to it and getting to know the boys from around Australia.
"South Africa are fast, they're big and strong as well. We'll have to be at the top of our game to beat them."