FOR Pirates number 6 Jimmy Schwager, the 2019 Central North season has been an education on and off the field.
The Year 12 Calrossy student has been a regular starter in his debut first-grade season, but has also received tutoring off the field from teachers-turned-teammates Conrad Starr and Bart Leach.
"To have those guys around, both at the club and at school, has been massive for me," Schwager told the Leader.
"I am really wanting to get the textbook stuff a number 6 does down pat and those guys have been awesome in helping me do that."
Graduating from the club's under-19 ranks, Schwager has been part of mixed season of results for the reigning premiers but believes the team "can get a run on".
"We are coming off a bye and there is a pretty good feeling around the group at training," Schwager said.
"There is a real belief we can turn the season around, starting this weekend against Narrabri."
Hailing from Wee Waa, Schwager said he was looking forward to the challenge of playing against his native club.
"If anything, knowing all of those guys - and that they are after you - is a confidence-booster," he said.
"I pretty much know every one of their players and, had I not gone to school at Calrossy, there is a real chance I would have been playing alongside them.
"I am 17 turning 18 this year and while I'm not thinking too far ahead, if I do decide to go home at the end of the year, there is always that chance I might make my way over there.
"But I am really enjoying playing at Pirates and I'm not really thinking that far ahead."
Schwager said he was working hard to develop his game at the No.6 position.
"I guess the big thing I am really keen to work on are my tackles and my pilfering," he said.
"To me, those are just the textbook things a good No.6 does.
"So I am working really hard to get better and better every week at that kind of stuff."
So far, the 2019 Central North season has yielded mixed results for the reigning premiers.
Currently sitting in fifth place on the ladder with just two wins to their name, Saturday's clash against the second-placed Narrabri Blue Boars at Chillingworth Oval has become a must-win.
"While the season has been a bit challenging at times, I'm confident we can turn this around," Schwager said.
"We have been training well and I think we are really looking forward to the challenge on Saturday."
Saturday's game kicks off at 3.15pm at Chillingworth Oval.