Lou Goodwin has become the inaugural winner of The NRL Rookie, landing a contract with Canberra Raiders in the process.
As an added bonus, Lou's junior club – the West Wyalong Malle Men, were the recipients of $25,000 courtesy of the NRL, at the live final at The Star Event Centre on Tuesday night.
As a result of a stellar 2016 season so far and a club culture that felt natural to Goodwin, Canberra seemed the best fit to further develop his talents.
"I know Ricky Stuart's down there and he runs a really good training camp," Goodwin said.
"Being close to the country as well, I feel that is where I can progress further as a footballer."
The 25-year-old carpenter had a strong start to the competition after winning the first three Captain's Challenges.
Combined with consistent form and past experience as a part of the Sydney Roosters under-20s side in 2010-11, the backrower proved he had the mental toughness and skill set to match it in the NRL.
"My experience with the Roosters really matured me. I've seen what it's like and I want that lifestyle to play at a professional level," Goodwin said.
From the 16 clubs present, two made moves for the back rower - the Gold Coast Titans and the Raiders.
In order to progress to the elite level, Goodwin is well aware that there is still a lot of hard work to be done.
"I need to put more weight on firstly and then really hone into my position of second row," Goodwin said.
While there are still things to learn, a real strength of Goodwin as an edge forward is his ability to hit a hole.
This was seen on many occasions throughout his NRL Rookie campaign and was keenly identified by the Canberra Raiders Recruitment and High Performance Manager, Peter Mulholland.
"Lou runs great lines," Mulholland said.
"We want to get back into those country areas and he [Goodwin] fits our footprint."
After re-igniting the careers of Jordan Rapana and Clay Priest, the Canberra Raiders have proven that opportunities come to those who put in the work.
To most, these "extras" go unnoticed, but every coach can see the commitment that goes on behind the scenes – which is precisely what Brad Fittler saw in Goodwin.
"I watched Lou's attention to detail in the games and he did everything required of him, which makes him that player that everyone wants to play with," Fittler said.
While Goodwin's on field commitment has always been faultless, the challenge for him now is to work behind the scenes at training - to get his body ready for demands of consistent first grade.
"The aim from there is for Lou to put that weight back on," Mulholland said.
"Probably at least six to seven kilos but for somebody of his age, he will do that easy in the offseason."
From the NRL Rookie experience, Mulholland believes Goodwin has gained plenty of confidence, which is an essential trait to play in the NRL.
For Goodwin, the rollercoaster experience of The NRL Rookie will help him handle the stress and demand that comes with being in the spotlight.
He has an opportunity to play first grade like his father, Matt once did.
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