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Alexander Brimson in action for the Titans in the National Youth Competition in 2016.

Twelve months ago he was watching the Downer NRL Auckland Nines on television back home on the Gold Coast marvelling at the fact that former under-18s teammate Greg Leleisiuao was taking part.

Seven days ago he was working hard as an apprentice carpenter ripping down walls, cutting timber and putting frames up on a renovation at Hope Island.

On Saturday, 18-year-old Alexander Brimson gets to rub shoulders with rugby league elite when he runs out for the Gold Coast Titans in the tournament's first game.

A nippy half or fullback who teammates are predicting will be one to watch over the course of the two days, Brimson was the Mal Meninga Cup under-18s player of the year in Queensland last year and featured in 12 Holden Cup games for the Titans in the second half of the season.

His boss has been hammering him for weeks about whether he would be included in the Titans' Nines squad and even after landing in Auckland Brimson was still coming to grips with what he was about to achieve.

"This time last year I had some mates that I'd played footy with that were playing and I was just thinking that how crazy it was that I knew people that were playing Nines," Brimson told

"I played Mal Meninga with [Leleisiuao] and to see him at the Nines the next year was crazy and to now be part of it is pretty shocking."

As impressive off the field as he is on it, Brimson is in the second year of his carpentry apprenticeship and with such a supportive boss says that while the balance of work and football can be physically taxing it is helping him to become mentally stronger.

"Last week I was demolishing walls, framing, cutting timber, taking down plaster, whatever.

"It's usually pretty draining on the body but it's not too bad. Everyone else that I talk to reckons it's good to work and train. It makes you strong mentally.

"When I was younger I obviously wanted to play footy but as a job I thought that building was pretty cool so I got into that.

"I know it's important to have something as well as footy, not only in case footy doesn't work but just so you're not thinking about footy 24/7.

"I'm glad that I'm doing it and I'm enjoying it. I'd rather be doing this than doing nothing throughout the days."

Prior to Christmas Brimson was training one day a week with the NRL squad but that has increased to two in the early weeks of 2017, catching the eye of senior members of the squad such as Ryan James.

"He comes up and plays a bit of fullback and in the halves and he always seems to be that support player," James said.

"He plays a bit like Tyrone [Roberts] where he's always sniffing around the ruck and pushing around the ruck.

"I went through a hole at training one day and he pushed up and I didn't pass it. He should have blown up at me but he was too humble and said that I was just playing the percentages."

And if he was to face off against one of his childhood idols such as Benji Marshall or Johnathan Thurston during the course of the Auckland Nines tournament?

"I wouldn't forget it. I wouldn't be able to think straight out there, I'd just be looking at them," Brimson admitted.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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