FREEBODY Oval has undergone its annual conversion from footy field to cricket pitch but for Queanbeyan Kangaroos young gun Brett Solomon, the rugby league season is far from over.
While the Kangaroos’ wrapped up their campaign last month, Solomon will be afforded little time to enjoy the offseason as he looks to press his claims for a spot in the Canberra Raiders SG Ball side.
The 17-year-old is one of 40 NRL hopefuls to have been included in the Raiders’ under-18s summer training program which will be whittled down to a final 22-man squad over the coming months.
For Solomon, it’s an opportunity at redemption after his most recent junior representative season was ruined by injury.
A NSW under-16s State of Origin representative in 2011, Solomon originally made the cut for Canberra’s 2012 SG Ball side before tearing cartilage in his right shoulder.
The knock put the aspiring front rower out of action for six weeks and put paid to his hopes of a Raiders call up.
“I did my shoulder about half way through the SG Ball season and by the time I was right to go again, it was too late to jump back in,” Solomon said. “They already had a few fit forwards ready to go.
“It was pretty disappointing, it felt like a lot of hard work and all that training had gone to nothing really. This year though I’ll be one of the older boys and hopefully I’ll be able to get my foot in the door.”
Advised by the Raiders to instead focus his attention on club football, Solomon made his first grade debut with the Kangaroos in April and hasn’t looked back.
At the club’s annual presentation dinner last Saturday, Solomon was awarded as most promising player and first grade’s most improved.
“It took me a few matches to get into it and to get used to the speed and toughness [of first grade] but I think it probably went better than I initially thought I’d go,” Solomon said of his transition to the senior ranks this year.”