After a successful 2018 season, topping it off with a spot in a national rugby squad would make 2019 even better for Bay of Plenty's Cole Forbes.
The first five and fullback is one of six Bay rugby players who have just finished their final New Zealand Under 20 trial camp in Palmerston North, now hoping to have impressed selectors enough to be chosen to represent New Zealand. Other Bay players who were part of the 50-player trials last week include flanker Kohan Herbert, halfback Leroy Carter, winger Emoni Narawa and midfielders Lalomilo Lalomilo and Dennon Robinson Barlett.
The camps, with the last one in December, have been held to select the New Zealand Under 20 team that will compete at the Oceania Rugby U20 Championship, which has been won by New Zealand every year since its inception in 2015, before heading to Argentina in June for the World Rugby U20 Championship.
After a successful 2018, Forbes says making the New Zealand U20s would be a major coup.
He was part of last year's Te Puke Sports squad that was crowned the Baywide champs after beating Te Puna 27-13 in the Farmlands Co-operative Baywide Premier 1 final. He was also part of the Junior Steamers side that won the Jock Hobbs Memorial National Under 19 tournament in Taupo, securing BOP Rugby's first major trophy in 42 years, and, in his first year out of Tauranga Boys' College made his full Steamers debut.
Forbes says the training camps have been very competitive with each player showing his strengths and putting his best foot forward to stand out.
"Being able to make this team would be a really good goal of mine achieved. Had a good year last year and achieved a few goals, but, yeah, this is the goal looking forward, to make this," Forbes says.
"It's like every kid's dream to wear the black jersey and having the opportunity to come down here and potentially make the team is a huge privilege and I'm grateful for the opportunity.
"Everyone's like top-level rugby players so it's real competitive. It's a whole other level."
The trial camp includes position-specific coaching and New Zealand U20 coach Craig Philpott said players had been working on individual programmes since their last assembly.
"This is a strong group of young athletes so as coaches we have a tough job ahead of us in selecting the squad for next month's Oceania Championship," Philpott said.
The team will be announced in early April and will assemble in Auckland in the middle of next month before departing to the Oceania champs.
The draw for June's World Rugby U20 Championship will see New Zealand come up against South Africa, Scotland and Georgia in pool play in the hope of qualifying for the play-offs. The tournament will be held over five match days across three venues from June 4-22.
BOP players selected to trial for NZ Under-20s:
Dennon Robinson Barlett