Despite going within days of making his NRL debut for the North Queensland Cowboys last week only to be blocked by the return of captain Johnathan Thurston, Kyle Laybutt is ready to go again this week with nothing standing between him and his NRL dream.
The 21-year-old Bundaberg-born, Townsville-raised Cowboy seemed more nervous fronting the media than he did at the prospect of running out against a Melbourne Storm side that will undoubtedly try and ensure his start in the NRL is as unhappy as possible.
Laybutt credits his preparedness to the systems the Cowboys have in place, having trained with the NRL team for several weeks since returning from injury, and spending last week preparing as if he was going to play.
"I knew my time would come soon, I'm patient I guess just waiting for it and 'Johnno' put on a bit of a clinic last week so it was good to see," Laybutt said.
"I've been 18th man, just getting around the boys and doing the warm-up and mentally preparing myself to play I should be good coming into this weekend."
Laybutt's past experience in the Queensland Cup with Ray Thompson, who is stepping into the halfback role this week, could prove to be a factor in the effectiveness of a Cowboys side without their two chief playmakers.
"[Ray Thompson and I] train together a lot, but playing is a different kettle of fish. It's good to have a combination with Ray from last year and hopefully we bring it into this week," Laybutt said.
The rookie is also hopeful of assisting Lachlan Coote with North Queensland's kicking game, and controlling the flow of the match will help the Cowboys stop the Storm on a cold night in Melbourne.
"I hope to have a good kicking game there with 'Cootie' and Ray, but also my organisation, I've got to be on the job there and help lead the boys around the park," he said.
Fellow rookie Corey Jensen is looking forward to seeing Laybutt in action in the NRL, and is confident that the debutant will prove himself a player of the future.
"I think he brings a lot. You look at him and you wouldn't think it, but defensively he's very strong, he doesn't mind getting his body in front of people and his ball control and control of the game is really good," Jensen said.
Laybutt has impressed his teammates with his defensive ability, and the debutant himself is hopeful that Melbourne send plenty of traffic his way.
"I hope they do, I love defending so I'm looking forward to it if they do," he said.