Scott Drinkwater will pull on the number one jersey for the Storm in the club’s first pre-season trial against the Warriors at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong on Friday night.
The rising star is one of three contenders vying for the vacant fullback spot, with Maori All Stars rep Jahrome Hughes and Ryan Papenhuyzen also likely to play minutes at fullback in hopes of clinching the starting position come round one.
Drinkwater, 21, said he was excited to be named as a starter in Friday night’s 29-man squad, which features seven members of last year’s grand final side.
“It has been a long, tough preseason and I’m getting itchy feet to get out there and play some footy,” he said.
“I’ve had a few preseasons down here and for the majority of them I’ve just been learning – this time there’s that spot vacant and I made it a goal of mine to do all I can to get that number one jersey in round one.
“The trials will be really important – as good as your training might be you have to play good footy as well.
“This Friday night will be a big occasion for myself.”
A star for Easts in the Intrust Super Cup in 2018, Drinkwater grew up playing in the halves and made the transition to fullback last season.
“I didn’t play much fullback growing up, I’m enjoying it,” he said.
“It’s exciting to change your position and learn new things.
“I think the best thing is I can roam both sides of the field – you’re not stuck in one half like you can be when you’re playing in the halves.”
He described Papenhuyzen as an “electrifying” player and a potential dark horse in the race for the vacant fullback position.
“(Papenhuyzen) is the fastest – he is an electrifying fullback,” Drinkwater said.
“He’s exciting to watch and very fast and he’ll get a crack playing there (at fullback) I dare say.”
“(Jahrome Hughes) and I are both fighting for that spot too but we don’t hate each other because of it.
“You’ve just got to do your best at training and during games – ultimately it’s up to Craig and the coaching staff.”
Drinkwater said having retired star Billy Slater around the club was invaluable.
“He comes to training and gives me tips,” he said.
“Billy will grab me before a meeting and show me clips from training and talk about where I can improve.
“He said if you ever need my help I’m only a phone call away.”