SLOW and steady wins the race. Sam McIntyre is under no illusions that his journey to the National Rugby League will be hard work, and slow progress.
But he is willing to make the sacrifices and embrace patience to ensure his dream becomes a reality.
The former Port Macquarie Sharks junior played all of his football in the town until being scooped up by the Newcastle Knights when he was a teenager.
Playing in their junior system, he often returned to continue to play for Port Macquarie where he won a first grade premiership.
In 2017, he was a stand out starting second rower for the Knights under-20s team, playing 80 minutes most weeks and impressing – so much so that the Wests Tigers offered him a three year full time contract starting in 2018.
He had 10 days to settle into Sydney before beginning his training and meeting coach Ivan Cleary for the first time – as well as big names like Benji Marshall, Luke Brooks, Josh Reynolds, Chris Lawrence and Ben Matulino.
“We had a meeting, all of the new recruits, and then a few days later we had our first training session to ease us into the club’s systems,” he said.
“We train five days a week, and sometimes six days with a Saturday. In saying that, it’s not too demanding.
“It’s good being full time and always thinking about making myself better as an athlete, and doing everything I can to be a better person and a player.”
It can be a difficult task transitioning to the big smoke, around players who have won premierships when McIntyre was still crawling around in nappies.
I’m only 19 and I have plenty of time. Developing into a first grade player doesn’t happen overnight.Sam McIntyre
“But I feel like it’s a good club to bring me up and develop me as a player,” he said.
“There’s a lot of other new faces and there’s a great vibe and feel. We’re building. It’s a really positive experience.
“Being around people who have done it for years, it’s good to try and take a little bit (of advice and tips) from everyone.
“I’ve met all of the first grade guys, and spoke a fair bit to Chris Lawrence who is a legend of the club and a fellow second rower, so I’ve been getting under his wing a bit. They’re all really supportive.”
Through his contract he is unable to be selected in first grade in 2018 unless there are significant injuries to the Tigers squad, but it’s all about going slow and steady.
“I’m only 19 and I have plenty of time (to make it to the NRL). Developing into a first grade player doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.
“I’ll start in under 20s and hopefully by the end be playing reserve grade against men and experienced players which will help me develop moving forward to 2019.”