Jack Alchin has all-but secured his spot as the North Coast Bulldogs' under-16 general for the 2022 Andrew Johns Cup.
The Port Macquarie Sharks' halfback has impressed everyone in pre-season as the Bulldogs prepare to take the next step towards 2022 in Forster this weekend.
North Coast will tackle last season's premiers Central Coast in their final selection trial ahead of the season opener in February.
While nothing has been confirmed, team manager Paul Walsh said the teenager has been the standout player since the 2021/2022 junior representative program kicked off.
"He's the fittest in both the 16s and the 18s and wins all our fitness drills and time trials," Walsh said.
"He's out of the box in terms of his fitness and that shows in his gameplay at the moment as well. He's someone we're really excited about getting on the park and he's in for a big season."
Walsh described Alchin as a "real seven" who leads by example whether it's on the training park or in a match situation.
"He's a real general who barks orders across the park no matter if he's training or playing and he takes a lot of other blokes with him when they train," Walsh said.
"He's really lifted the standards across the 16s in terms of their effort at training. He's been a valuable asset for us."
While the under-16 squad appears settled, it's a different scenario facing under-18 assistant coach Ben Stewart.
Stewart said selectors would have a difficult time narrowing their squad down to 30 before they settle on a final squad of 25 just before Christmas.
"It's been really impressive to see some of the stuff we've been doing on the training paddock be applied in a game situation," he said.
"It's pleasing to see what we've got set up is working with the kids.
"They're good signs for us as coaches to see how they've progressed over the last eight or nine months from the start of the year."
Hastings trio Jed Pratt, Josh Power and Hudson Harmer have all been impressive.
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