Bayden Searle is that bit closer to achieving his dream while also realising how far he still has to go.
Searle is spending the first half of pre-season with the Newcastle Knights' NRL side after catching the eye during his first year in the Hunter.
Searle started out in the Jersey Flegg competition after making the move from Dubbo at the end of the 2018 Group 11 season, but his development and ability saw him get a taste of what is now known as the Canterbury Cup before the end of the season.
Searle knows now training alongside the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, and David Klemmer means he's in the thoughts of new Knights coach Adam O'Brien, but he told the Daily Liberal he's not getting carried away at all.
"Possibly but this also gives you an idea of how much you've got to work on," he said of playing NRL in 2020.
"It's a real eye-opener in that sense.
"I've definitely still got a lot to work on but I didn't think I'd get here this quick after leaving Dubbo just a year ago.
"It's been a pleasant surprise but I know there's heaps to work on."
The increase in quality, physicality, and workload has stood out to Searle since spending time with the top side.
As one of a handful of younger players given the chance to step up, Searle admitted it's taken a toll on the body.
But it's all been helping the former Western Rams star's development, as is training alongside Pearce.
The premiership and Origin-winning halfback is one of the biggest names in the game and the Dubbo product has been soaking up all he can from the experienced number seven.
"They're good to be around. Guys like [Aidan] Guerra and 'Pearcey' help a lot and don't let you fall behind," Searle said.
"It's great to be off his [Pearce's] hip and get those little tips and get to improve.
"You get to watch his control and how he's a leader."
Being that dominant halfback who guiding a side around is what Searle wants to become in 2020.
Always a strong ball-runner with a smart kicking game, Searle has taken his game to another level after being one of the key men in Dubbo CYMS' march to the 2018 Group 11 grand final but he remains determined to get better still.
"Game management," Searle said of what he wants to improve.
"Having that confidence to make calls and have the boys want to listen to you."
Searle added the Canterbury Cup is where he wants to remain this season if he's not around the Knights' NRL squad.
The mood around pre-season at Newcastle has been positive, with incoming coach O'Brien bringing a new energy.
The 2019 season was a disappointment for the Knights as the side missed out on finals, resulting in coach Nathan Brown losing his job, but Searle feels the side can make a real impact in 2020.
"It's a really good bunch and everyone has seem really pleased," he said.
"All the spirits are high and things are looking good."