Exciting young Manly half-back Luke Metcalf is keen to test himself against more experienced players in 2019 after another fine season in the U20s.
The 19-year-old enjoyed a stellar first season for the Sea Eagles in 2018 after coming over from Cronulla, culminating in him winning the Club's Jersey Flegg Player of the Year award.
Metcalf joined Cronulla in 2015 from his home town of Coffs Harbour and went on to play Harold Matthews, SG Ball and Holden Cup for the Sharks.
The former NSW U16s and U18s half-back wasted little time in his first season on the Northern Beaches, playing a dominant role for the Sea Eagles in the Jersey Flegg (U20s) competition.
"There were a number of players who had good seasons for Manly in the Jersey Flegg, so to get that award was a pretty nice feeling,'' Metcalf said.
"It's always hard to find your feet when you come over from another club but the move to Manly has certainly been good for me.
"I was just happy to have a decent season but I know I can do much better."
His form in the U20s saw Metcalf rewarded with a call-up to play a match for Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles in the Intrust NSW competition in August.
The 80 minutes left him wanting more game time against hardened opponents in the strong Intrust competition despite him still being eligible to play in the Jersey Flegg next year.
"Hopefully I can get a full year playing against men who have 50 to 100 NRL games to their name,'' Metcalf said.
"To be able to test myself against players like that is exciting and it will only help in the development of my game."
Metcalf said working with experienced halves in Daly Cherry-Evans and Trent Hodkinson at training throughout the year also played a factor in his fine season.
"It was good to work on my game awareness and management with Daly and Trent,'' he said.
"They are always very positive and happy to work with the young halves here, so that was something I also enjoyed throughout the year."
Metcalf said it was pleasing to see the Sea Eagles invest in their youth with seven players from the premiership winning Holden Cup team of 2017 now in the NRL squad.
"It is great to see the development of these players. Watching someone like Manase Fainu who played in that NYC team in 2017 make his NRL debut this year was pretty amazing,'' he added.
"Manase is a year older than me and watching him play in the NRL does drive you even harder at training.
"In saying that, I don't want to think too far ahead. I just want to make sure I have a good pre-season and keep working hard on my defence.
"If I am to play more in the Intrust next year, then I have to make sure that my defence is very good, so it has been great to test myself in wrestling and contact sessions at training."