Feldt feeling heat from Cowboys kids
He is still just 23 years of age but Cowboys winger Kyle Feldt already has one eye on the "young fellas" who are coveting his position after graduating from the under-20s to join Paul Green's NRL squad for pre-season training.
With the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott, Jason Taumalolo, Lachlan Coote, Kane Linnett and Justin O'Neill all on secondment with Four Nations teams in England, senior figures were on short supply when Green and his coaching staff assembled their squad to start 2017 preparations this week.
With 46 NRL games to his name Feldt was one of the players Green turned to in order to set the right example for the players who have been promoted from the under-20s system into full-time training, including highly regarded outside backs Kalyn Ponga, Gideon Gela-Mosby and Marcus Jensen.
Gela-Mosby and Jensen have topped the Holden Cup try-scoring table the past two seasons and Feldt sees their pursuit of a position in the top grade as a positive for the team as a whole.
"There are a lot of young fellas coming through the 20s system so it's always going to be hard to keep your spot," said Feldt, who played 24 games in 2016 and was on the verge of Queensland Origin selection.
"[Ponga] definitely finished the year with two strong games so he'll be pushing to get a starting spot there. He's nipping at both of our heels.
"You've just got to make sure you're doing the right thing at the right times at training. If I keep doing that I reckon I'll be all right for the start of the year.
"It's good that we've got a lot of depth in the outside backs. Antonio [Winterstein] went down at the back-end of the year so we had a lot of depth there with Javid [Bowen] coming in and it's really good to see we've got that nice depth through the whole team.
"'Greeny' really put it upon us, the experienced boys from last year, that we really need to have a voice in the first couple of weeks without the experienced boys here.
"All of us older boys in the squad here now have got to step up and let our voice be heard.
"The main goal at this time is to get through the pre-season nice and strong and then hopefully start the year where I finished off last year.
"That's as far as I'm looking at the moment and as soon as the season rolls around I'll start setting some minor goals and work to some bigger ones later on."
More than individual motivation, Feldt said that the desire to carry the tag of 'premiers' into another season is driving him to take two steps further in 2017.
Rather than any release of pressure from not having the title of 'defending premiers' heading into a new season, Feldt said he and the rest of the team are desperate to make up for the way they exited the competition in their preliminary final loss to eventual premiers Cronulla.
"That's not the way that we really wanted to go out," Feldt admitted.
"We watched a bit of video on it and that's just not who we were last year and how we played. We just put one bad performance together and that really cost us our season.
"It's something that's going to stick with us for a bit but I just think we need to turn the page and get over it. A new season and start again.
"There's a bit more fire in our belly to try and get it back and have that feeling again, knowing that we're coming into the pre-season and season knowing that we're premiers again.
"I know personally that I want to get back in that position again. I liked knowing the fact that we were premiers and coming back into pre-season."
This video first featured at cowboys.com.au