St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition team prop Luciano Leilua admits he has learn some valuable lessons about what it takes to be a first-grade player in 2016.
The local Hurstville United junior is in the midst of his maiden pre-season with the first-grade squad after being personally invited to participate by Head Coach Paul McGregor.
The Australia Schoolboy is one of several players from the Young Dragons ranks taking part in the full-time program and is well aware that every obstacle he overcomes will benefit him both mentally and physically as a player.
“The pre-season has gone alright so far but it’s been pretty hard on the body and something I’ve had to get used to,” said Leilua.
“The body has been sore and tired but I’m used to what is required now, including the long days, as this is what is expected if you are to play with the best.
“I learnt very quickly that you need to hang in there even if the going gets tough and I’ve been fortunate to have several senior players such as Leeson Ah Mau pushing me on.
“I was initially surprised when I was invited to train with the first-grade pre-season squad but I am grateful for being given this chance.
“It’s helped as well seeing some of the other Under 20’s players training as well with the senior squad as we support one another and push each other on.
“My goals are to get through the pre-season and carry with me everything I have been taught and apply it at NYC level.
“I want to stay injury free and step-up my responsibilities so we will have to see what happens in the future.”