Lincon Smith turned and, with a gaping smile etched on his youthful face, said: “Bloody oaf, mate!”
The response was affirmation of the importance to him of being named in the Tigers’ under-23 squad for the first time, on his 20th birthday.
The squad was named at the conclusion of the Greater Northern Tigers Championships at Scully Park on Saturday.
Smith’s Bulldogs teammate, Hayden Smith, was also selected in the squad, who open their Country Championships campaign against North Coast at Coffs Harbour on March 9. Boggabri’s Matt Gillham is another first-time Tiger.
After learning of his selection, Lincon Smith, a prop, said he had refrained from drinking alcohol since January 1 as he dropped weight and boosted his fitness – with the goal of making the Tigers squad.
Smith told the Namoi Valley Independent last week that he had lost some 22 kilograms since the start of the 2018 season – plummeting from about 132 kilograms to about 110kg.
“Hopefully this [his Tigers selection] can lead on to something better again,” he said. “Just put my head down and work a bit harder, you know … [it] wouldn’t be bad to play up a bit higher and try and do something with it, that’s for sure.”
Group 4 lost both their matches on Saturday, going down 28-12 to Group 21 and then 38-0 to Group 19, on what was a steaming hot day.
Despite the defeats, Group 4 coach Paul Hyson does not believes there is a big gulf between his side and Groups 21 and 19.
He said “we were every bit as good as Group 21 in the first game, probably bar five minutes”.
“I don’t think there’s that big of a gulf, to be honest,” he said.