NRL contract is top of wish-list for Horwood

Maitland Pickers premiership winner Brenton Horwood has one thing on his mind – life in the NRL.

“My goal is to get a contract at the end of the year,” he told the Mercury yesterday.

The 22-year-old forward has been training with the Newcastle Knights during the off-season and a few months of hard work under the watchful eye of coach Wayne Bennett has been beneficial for his game and has given him experience as a professional footballer.

“It has been unbelievable,” Horwood said.

“The training is so professional and it all works like clockwork.”

The East Maitland junior finds himself right in the mix on the eve of season 2013 despite being forced to swallow a bittersweet pill on Tuesday night.

He was selected for the Knights in their NSW Cup opener against Wyong on Saturday only to be later dropped in favour of first grade 18th man David Fa’alogo.

“It was great news but there was a late change announced last night at training,” Horwood said.

“David [Fa’alogo] has been brought down to fill in for NSW Cup, so unfortunately I miss out, but hopefully I have some better luck next week.

“To be honest though, I didn’t really expect it straight away, especially the first couple of rounds.

“There were so many good ­players to come back in the top grade so it was a pleasant surprise to be named.”

Horwood remains upbeat about the situation and wants to continue pushing for a spot in the squad under NSW Cup coach Rick Stone as well as a possible contract.

“The competition for spots in the Knights’ squad is very fierce this year and they need to play well ­consistently each week to hold their position,” Stone said.

“My job is to get the best out of the boys playing in the NSW Cup and make sure they are ready when they get their chance in the NRL.”

In the meantime, Horwood will train with the Knights each Tuesday night and return to club duties with the Pickers for Thursday sessions ahead of the Newcastle Rugby League kick-off on April 13. 

However, Thornton junior Dale Clacherty will be running around for the Knights this Saturday after being selected on the wing for the NSW Cup squad.

The Knights’ 20s graduate has also been linked with the Pickers in 2013 as part of a player placement program rolled out between Newcastle and local clubs.

The announcement was made during the week and NYC players Lachlan Shipard, Adam Clydsdale (Maitland) and Michael Steele (Kurri) were joined with their respective clubs as well.

This trio, along with West Maitland junior and state age ­representative Ben Roose, will play for the Knights against the Wests Tigers in game one of the NYC season at Hunter Stadium on Monday at 4.45pm. 

The main game will follow at 7pm with East Maitland junior Robbie Rochow named on the bench for the Knights.

- See tomorrow’s Maitland Mercury for more NRL news.

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