IN the rugby league world, a pre-season chance can be all one needs to propel their career to new heights.
And Albion Park-Oak Flats product Dylan Lucas fully intends to make the most of his this Saturday.
The 20-year-old has been named to start in the centres for the Newcastle Knights, coached by former Batemans Bay Tiger Adam O'Brien, in their trial match with the Cessnock Goannas at the Cessnock Sports Ground from 6pm.
"It'll be great to get out there and play some footy again after a tough pre-season - I can't wait," Lucas said.
"Cessnock won the Newcastle competition last year, so we all know we are in for a tough game.
"From a personal perspective, this weekend will be all about just knowing my role and doing it well, while doing all the little things right."
2021 is a year of opportunity for rugby league players around the country after COVID-19 derailed most competitions in 2020.
Instead of playing in the Knights' system in 2020, as NSW Cup was cancelled, Lucas went and played for South Newcastle.
"Obviously last year turned out differently than I had planned because of COVID but I feel I made the most of it," he said.
"I enjoyed my season with South Newcastle, where I played some solid week in, week out footy."
As such, the Group Seven junior came back hungrier than ever when his third pre-season with the club kicked off on November 30.
"This pre-season has been as tough as any - they are always a massive grind," he said.
"I've also been lucky enough to spend a couple of days training with the first grade group, which has been an awesome learning experience for me."
Despite spending most of his junior career in the halves or back-row, Lucas has spent the majority of the pre-season in the outside backs.
"I've been floating between centre, wing and fullback this pre-season," he said.
"I think I'll find myself playing a few of these positions throughout the trial games.
"The club views me long-term as an outside back and I'm really enjoying my chances there at the moment."
Following this weekend's trial match, Lucas will continue to work hard, as he aims to lock down a spot in the Knights' NSW Cup side.
"My goals for the 2021 season will be to try and play to the best of my ability each and every week," he said.
"If I do that, I'm confident the rest of it will take care of itself."
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