Tyler Dickinson is the first to admit he returned to Giants pre-season training this week with an extra spring in his step.
The 18-year-old prop’s finish to 2014 couldn’t have gone much better.
Having adapted well to full-time pre-season training in his first year as a member of Huddersfield’s Super League squad, Dickinson slotted seamlessly into the England Academy set-up for the two-Test series against Australian Schoolboys.
The former Siddal junior featured in both games, playing around 60 minutes in a squared series which England edged on aggregate scores.
He felt fitter and stronger than he ever had before to cause Australia’s most talented young players a whole heap of trouble with his strong carries and rock-solid defence.
Dickinson put that down to his previous month working in the Giants’ full-time professional environment.
And after returning to his club just in time for a Christmas break, the highly-talented teenager has now set his sight on making his Super League debut sooner rather than later.
“The last few months of last year were fantastic,” he said.
“Being part of the Super League squad and training full-time is proving an unbelievable experience, and to then back it up by facing and beating the Aussies was amazing. You always want to test yourselves against the best in the world, and that’s exactly what I did.
“I played about 60 minutes in both games, and felt pretty comfortable doing that. I could tell straight away how much benefit I was getting out of pre-season training.
“That’s helped add to my confidence and made me feel even better about the hard work we’ve got ahead of us.
“I couldn’t wait to get back to pre-season training this week, and our opening trial game at Bradford next Sunday can’t come soon enough.
“It’s a test I think all the boys are looking forward to facing.”
Dickinson knows he faces a massive challenge to get himself in the frame for a Super League start.
As well as experienced front-row forwards Eorl Crabtree, Craig Huby, Craig Kopczak and Anthony Mullally, the likes of Josh Johnson and Nathan Mason are knocking loudly on the prop door.
But even though his rivals know they’re after his spot, Dickinson has revealed how closely they’re all working.
“There’s a real healthy rivalry between us,” he added.
“We’re enjoying challenging each other and I think that’s bringing the best out of us.
“And the help and support I’m getting off the senior boys has been brilliant – even though my ultimate aim is to take their spot!
“He may be new to the squad, but from day one he’s been there to pass on tips to me. He’s regularly taking me to one side to tell me to try doing things this way or that way, and you just can’t put a price on something like that.
“It also helps that my head coach is Paul Anderson, who’s one of the best props there’s been and has done everything in the game. His advice has also been invaluable.
“He does work us all incredibly hard and make sure he always keeps us on our toes.
“But I believe that’s the way it should be. If you want to improve you need to be pushed as hard as you can, both physically and mentally, and that’s what’s happening with us right now.
“I feel the way I went against the Australian Schoolboys shows it’s paying off for me, and that’s why I’m feeling so positive about the future.”