Halfback Ben McNamara is a talented young man who is not in a hurry.
Thrown into the bright lights of Super League last year at the tender age of 18, it was sink or swim.
And the composed playmaker certainly kept his head above the water, scoring a try on debut and helping Hull FC to a four-point win over Castleford Tigers.
Getting his shot so early in his career was a shock to the system for McNamara, but he took it comfortably in his stride.
“I probably wasn’t expecting it so early but I thought I did reasonably well when I got my chances last year,” he says.
“It’s been a lifelong goal and a dream of mine to play in Super League and to play professional rugby.
“It showed me the level I needed to be at and gave me a lot of motivation for this year, and to train hard through pre-season. It was a great experience and I’m really thankful for the opportunities.”
Heading into a new season, McNamara, 19, is eager to build on his breakout season, where he managed four first-team appearances.
But he knows he has plenty left to learn, while competition for places under new coach Brett Hodgson is intense.
“I don’t want to put a number on how many games I want to play,” McNamara admits.
“I’m happy just to learn off our other halfbacks – Sneydy, Josh Reynolds and Jake Connor – to get as much information from them and the coaches as I can. I want to learn the trade so that when opportunities do come up I can take them in my stride.
“I’m happy with the faith that Brett has shown in me in so far and I believe he has a lot of trust in me as a young kid. I’m not trying to set too many goals but, as we saw last year, opportunities can arise when you don’t expect them and I’ll be looking to take them when they come.”
The Skirlaugh Bulls product is in his first full pre-season as a professional after only finishing high school in 2020.
“I’m enjoying it, although it’s tough,” he insists.
“Last year I was at school, so I was a bit in and out. So this year is my first taste of a real pre-season. You can tell why you do it and how much you grow from it.
“Brett’s brought quite a lot to the group and the level of detail he goes into in our sessions is really helpful for someone in my position. He’s just brought a positive vibe around the place and he’s brought a lot of knowledge. I’m really enjoying learning from him.”
The Airlie Birds went through an up-and-down campaign last year that saw Lee Radford sacked in March, Andy Last take over and the club finish one win from the Grand Final.
McNamara is setting no lofty goals, instead focusing on gradual improvement and progress.
“Winning the title has to be everyone’s goal at the start of the year, but as a group we haven’t spoke about any goals like that.
“Our mentality will be to take each game as it comes and to try and do our best every week. The main is to focus on the process, and the results and the season will just take care of themselves.
“We did finish off the year well last year and had quite a bit of success, finishing the way we did, so hopefully we can go a few steps further this year.”
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