EIGHTEEN local youngsters are chomping at the bit to showcase their rugby league skills south of the border this weekend.
Under the guidance of the Hagan brothers, Dan, Ben and Tom, the Hunter Valley Group 21 JRL U16 representative squad will head to Melbourne on Friday, June 14, to contest a one-off match against the Victorian Thunderbolts, the Storm's feeder club, the following day.
While there, the side - boasting players from Aberdeen, Denman, Scone and Singleton - is also expected to tour the AAMI Park facilities, from the change sheds to the recovery rooms, meet the NRL stars and watch them train.
And, as an added bonus, the boys and their support crew will view the Melbourne-Newcastle fixture on Saturday afternoon.
It is an "event" few teenagers would pass up, including Aberdeen Tigers playmaker Tommy Dixon, who admitted he couldn't wait.
"It's the first occasion for all the guys, so we're looking forward to the game and the trip [to Melbourne]," he said.
"We should have a great time.
"We're eager to play some good hard footy - and soak up the experience.
"I know I'm keen to watch the Storm and Knights, too.
"It's an opportunity [as players] to do something we wouldn't usually do."
But, beating the Thunderbolts is high on the team's agenda as well.
"That's the goal," Dixon said.
"All the boys have the same skill ability - and heaps of potential.
"So, it's just a matter of making sure everyone does their job; and help their mate beside them.
"It is also a chance to be noticed by the Melbourne NRL development officers and club scouts.
"If any of the guys have the game of their life, anything is possible.
"It's a terrific opportunity."
Co-coach Tom Hagan praised the touring concept, too.
"The CRL (Country Rugby League) changed the direction of junior representative status a short time ago, so we [Group 21] came up with this idea," he added.
"And, it's proven quite popular so far.
"This could be their last rep game as a junior."