Sam Liles is packing his bags to ply his trade in Europe.
The Tamworth product will, after a two week tourney with the Australian development squad, head to Belgium to play for Royal Daring in the national competition over there.
“The Australian tour came after I’d already planned all the Belgium stuff, and was a bit of an extra surprise,” Liles said.
And a nice reminder that he is still on the periphery of national selectors, with the tour party comprising “a lot of guys from the Junior World Cup and a few others that are still on the radar but not based in Perth”.
It is about exposing the players to more international competition.
They’ll be based in Germany for a week and then the Netherlands, and play different 21s national teams.
From there Liles will head to Brussels to link up with Royal Daring.
“I always thought it would be cool to go over and play a year overseas,” Liles said.
But it was more of a pipe dream really.
He did have to weigh up the fact that he will miss the AHL, but decided that it was too good an opportunity to pass up.
“It seems like a great environment to go over and be part of,” Liles said.
“The quality of hockey over there is just awesome. You’re playing against Olympians week in week out.”
The season is split and initially runs from September to the end of November.
Last weekend the Australian U21s rep was one of the special guests at the annual York Cup and Kim Small Shield.
It was a bit of a strange experience - helping out at the coaching clinics and signing autographs - having been a starry-eyed youngster at the carnival himself.
He played in the first three carnivals and was the player of the York Cup in 2006.
“It’s crazy now looking at how many kids there are,” he commented.
Many of them, like he was, dreaming of one day wearing the green and gold.