When Hayden Loughrey linked up with the Newcastle Knights and was asked to shift from playing fullback into the halves in the under 20s side, the Gunnedah native wasn’t sold on the idea at first.
“It was tough to get used to,” Loughrey said of the positional change.
However, Loughrey quickly warmed to the playmaking role.
Now, with a season under his belt, he sees a future in the halves for himself opposed to out the back.
“I was hoping to be at fullback but as soon as they said it [he was playing in the halves], I was happy to have the chance to play in the side,” he said.
“I'd rather play in the halves [going forward] because of my body shape and how I’ve played this year there as well.”
Loughrey’s statistics from 2017 back up his decision to pursue a career as a halfback or five-eighth.
From 25 games, he scored 13 tries and set up another 13.
Throw in there his 12 linebreaks and the seven times he sent his teammates into the clear and you have yourself a pretty handy season.
The former Farrer student steered Newcastle to seventh spot on the ladder before the side was bundled out of the finals against the Brisbane Broncos in the opening week.
The Knights’ season ended after their comeback fell short.
Newcastle fought back from a 20-point deficit to get within two points before going down 30-26.
“We started real slow and we didn't have enough time to catch up. It ended pretty close but in the first half we let them score too easy,” he said.
Despite the disappointing loss, Loughrey thought the team had reason to celebrate.
“We had a good team and it was good year overall,” Loughrey said.
Loughrey is set for a big year ahead – both on and off the field.
Surgery on his left shoulder is booked in which will see him on the sidelines for about six months.
It means Loughrey will miss the opening four or five rounds of the 2018 under 20s competition, which will be state-based next year opposed to the national competition.
Loughrey won’t be slacking off, though.
The 18-year-old has a real estate course through TAFE lined up along with plenty of rehab as he looks to attain his rugby league dream.
“[My goal is] to try and get an NRL contract at the end of next year,” Loughrey said.
“I need to improve my physical attributes – get bigger and stronger.
“I can still do legs [weights after surgery] but I’ll be out of upper body for about eight weeks.”