Since being named captain of the Manly Sea Eagles’ 2016 Auckland Nines squad in February last year, Jake Trbojevic has been riding the highs of Rugby League.
Yet, after entering the NSW VB Blues squad as a development player, playing in a tournament-winning Australian Four Nations outfit, being appointed vice-captain of Manly, and now being selected in the Emerging Blues squad in the space of a year, Trbojevic has his feet planted firmly on the ground.
He is only 22 years old, and the modest workhorse from Mona Vale concedes he still has a lot to learn, and will certainly benefit from his inclusion in Laurie Daley’s Emerging Blues squad.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Trbojevic tells NSWRL.com.au just prior to taking part in the one-day camp.
“It should be a really fun day and I’m going to try and learn as much as possible and it makes it more special when you’re with your brother [Tom], we are both aiming to learn and enjoy the day.
“My brother and I were in camp for Game III last year and I loved it, it was a really good experience with some really good fellas and hopefully I can do that again this year.”
Trbojevic has a realistic chance of being a part of the State of Origin set-up in 2017 as part of the starting squad, particularly with the retirement of VB Blues legend Paul Gallen.
Debuting for the Australian Kangaroos at the back-end of last year further stated his claim, and that tournament proved his capabilities of handling the representative scene.
However, despite his amazing 2016 and ambitions for next season, Trbojevic is prioritising club results over anything else.
“It was a pretty surreal year with individual honours, but I was disappointed not to make the finals at Manly,” Trbojevic explains.
“Hopefully we will have a good start to the year and turn it around, it’s a really exciting year for us with Cherry (Daly Cherry-Evans) captaining.
“I think he is going to be a really good leader and I’m looking forward to playing under him, it should be an exciting year.”
Of course, performances at club level define the make-up of any representative squad, proving that Trbojevic has the head on his shoulders to complement his workhorse capabilities on the field.
Regarded as one of the best defenders in the competition, Trbojevic has shown maturity beyond his years on his rise to Rugby League success, which has paved the way for a further improved 2017 season, something VB Blues fans and Manly supporters can get excited about.