Bayden Searle has achieved plenty in a relatively short time at the Newcastle Knights but he's not resting on his laurels.
The former Dubbo CYMS halfback wants to use this weekend's NRL Nines as a chance to develop more and continuing pushing for that dream debut with the Knights.
Searle admitted it was somewhat of a shock to be named in the Knights' squad for the pre-season competition in Perth.
He's part of a youthful Knights squad but Searle isn't going to just make up the numbers.
The St John's junior has taken huge strides since making the move to the Hunter in 2018, having quickly moved up from the Knights' under 20s side to its Canterbury Cup outfit, before getting the call-up to spend the pre-season with the senior side and new coach Adam O'Brien.
"Everything is a stepping stone," Searle told the media on Tuesday.
"You take each day as it comes and I come in here and do the best I can. Hopefully it can take me to a good place."
The Knights announced their side on Monday evening, with Searle a host of young players pushing for an NRL start in 2020.
Kangaroos representatives Aidan Guerra and Sione Mata'utia headline the Knights' squad, while the return of Kurt Gidley has proven hugely popular with Newcastle fans.
Gidley left the Knights in 2015 and spent two season in Super League before retiring.
He will be the latest Searle gets the chance to learn from, having taken a huge amount from training alongside the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Kalyn Ponga, and Guerra during pre-season.
"It's definitely the biggest step up I've had to face," Searle said of being with the NRL squad.
"But hopefully I can keep rolling on from it."
Searle said he wanted to take the Nines opportunity "with both hands" and joked with reporters the crowd would be bigger than anything he had played in front of at Dubbo.
The Knights will play in Pool 1 at Perth, alongside the Roosters, Warriors, and Panthers.
They meet the Warriors first up at 7.55pm on Friday before a meeting with the Panthers on Saturday afternoon.
Searle will go up alongside former Western Rams halves partner Matt Burton in that game.
Searle added he'd received no specific instructions from O'Brien in the lead-up to Perth, but said it was pretty simple what to expect from a fast-paced Nines tournament.
"I think he [O'Brien] just wants us to go out there and play what we see and play eyes up," he said.
"It's an ad-lib competition so you play with your eyes and play what you see.
"It's fast so hopefully I can keep up."