At age 17, Max Altus has the texture of an NRL player in the making.
It’s easy to imagine the hooker-cum-lock filling out physically and packing down in an NRL scrum.
And when he speaks, his tone identifies him as being in the same mental orbit as elite athletes: confident and focally single-minded.
Seven years after playing his first league match, the Coonamble native – new to Year 12 at Farrer – has just been presented with his biggest break, and he knows it.
The Newcastle Knights have named him in their under-18 summer development squad, presenting him with the chance to make the club’s SG Ball Cup squad and showcase his talent before the most discerning rugby league judges – the people who would decide if he is made of the right stuff.
“That’s the plan [making the Knights’ SG Ball Cup squad],” he said.
“I’m pretty confident. I’ve been training hard. I’m a big believer in you get out what you put in.”
“This is a real big opportunity,” he added.
“It’s a big open window there. I’ve got to take the opportunity and not let it slip. Otherwise I could regret it one day.”
So far, Altus has ticked the right boxes in his formation as a gifted player.
After deciding to pursue a league career at age 14, he captained the Country under-16 side on their 2016 tour of Samoa and this year he toured New Zealand with the Country under-18 side.
The better he has got, the more pressure he has felt.
“Pressure’s good,” he said. “It builds you as a person.
“If you can’t handle it, it sort of sums up who you are. So it’s good for you, I reckon.”
They played together in the 2016 Country under-16 team and were also teammates in the North Tamworth Bears’ premiership-winning under-18 outfit this year.
Altus said: “It makes things a bit easier. You’re not just going in there [Newcastle] yourself. You’re doing it with someone else. It makes it a little easier to take on.”