Macksville High School student Blake Howle has pulled off a feat that very few rugby players ever achieve, for the second year running he has made representative teams for both rugby league and rugby union.
From Tuesday, May 21 to May 23 he will play with the rugby union North Coast team at the NSW CHS Championships held at Pittwater, Rugby Park, Warriewood.
Only a few days later, he will head off to play with the Greater Northern team at the NSW Combined High Schools (CHS) rugby league selection trials at Toronto, NSW. It promises to be a big few days for the 17-year-old, but he is more than prepared after spending nearly half his life on the field.
"I've been playing rugby league since I was 10, all my family have played, we are a very sporty family," Blake said.
"I've been playing union for four years, that started because my mates played, and they asked me to join the side, I wanted to see if I could play in both codes and I've been doing it ever since."
"I play for both the school teams as well, the Swampies and Mantas."
It's been a long road for Blake, his talent and drive to succeed have seen him travel all over the state to compete against some of the best up and coming players in the game.
"I had four trials in league and one in union to reach this stage, each level was more difficult than the last," Blake said.
"I've been training two times a week, one hour of league and one hour of union on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I also play in both grades over the weekend as well."
Despite the bright career prospects in professional rugby, Blake hasn't locked himself into one path and instead has decided to keep all his options open.
"I enjoy playing both, and I'll definitely take any opportunities I"m given to play professionally, but I'm also committed to studying, finishing year 12, and potentially university. I want something to fall back on if my sporting career doesn't work out," he said.
On the rugby field, Blake has only his teammates to rely on, however off the field he has a big support network of family, friends and coaches.
"I couldn't have done any of this without the support I've been getting; I'm very thankful to my coaches, mum and dad and Macksville High School," Blake said.
"We've been everywhere, it's been pretty much non-stop travelling, we are all very proud of him," Mother Lynette said.
Coach Nathan White has been in charge of the Macksville High School team for three years and is happy that two of the players from the school have made it to the representative level.
"It's a great effort for the boys; we are very proud of both. They've beaten some excellent players from the city; it's tough for kids from the country to make these teams," he said.
"The time and dedication that they have put into training and playing is a credit to both of them."