Reid Alchin made his first-grade debut in one of Kurri Kurri’s few wins last season.
This year he’s been playing 80 minutes as part of the Bulldogs transformation from wooden spooners to joint competition leaders.
“It has been unreal,” the Mulbring 19-year-old said.
“Playing next to guys like Mitch Cullen and Jade Porter, everything has just clicked for us this year.”
Alchin’s form in the second-row has been recognised with selection in the Emerging Rebels squad, who take on Canberra at Aubrey Keech Reserve on Saturday.
Alchin and his 18 teammates won’t miss any club games with no Newcastle Rugby League fixtures scheduled this weekend.
The Newcastle RL under 20s, coached by Macquarie’s Adam Bettridge, gathered at Charlestown on Thursday night and were presented with jerseys by Knights forward Lachlan Fitzgibbon, former Knights pair Clint Newton and Daniel Abraham as well as Coalfields veteran Mick Campton.
“It was pretty cool,” Alchin said. “They spoke about their overall experiences and a few things to work on.”
Alchin, a Cessnock junior and second-year construction management student at the University of Newcastle, will be joined in the Rebels uniform by fellow Kurri frontman Jordan Mitchell.
All eight district clubs are represented in the squad, who have been training once a week at Harker Oval.
Lakes have claimed the most spots with five, featuring centre Carl Randall, winger Emmanuel Sithole, prop John Toleafoa, lock Feleti Mateo and substitute Sam Hibberd.
“Hopefully we can gel together and get the win,” Alchin said.
Kick-off is 2pm.
Meanwhile, Lakes reserve grader Jake Scott was this week named on the wing for Malta ahead of the Knights’ upcoming Test match against South Africa at St Marys on June 24.
REBELS: Harry O’Brien, Connor Kirkwood, Carl Randall, Manu Matoka, Emmanuel Sithole, Jeremy Gibson, Kye Hopwood, Jordan Mitchell, Cody Bryant, John Toleafoa, Jack Jordan, Reid Alchin, Feleti Mateo, Sam Hibberd, Lachlan Bent, Jack Cameron, Lachlan Walmsley, Ryan Jones, Jayden Hocking.