This could be a career-making year for young Canberra Raiders forward Trey Mooney, and starting 2024 with representative honours has helped put wind in his sails.
Mooney is only 21, but has been a player on the precipice of a breakout season for the last few years in Canberra.
But this season is setting up to be a make or break year for the western Sydney product, in the final year of his contract with the Green Machine.
A call-up to the Maori All Stars alongside Canberra teammates Joe Tapine and Matt Timoko presents an opportunity for Mooney to put forward his case to remain a force in the NRL, and he intends to make a statement representing his New Zealand heritage in Townsville on Friday.
"It's been awesome. It's an honour and privilege to represent my family on my father's side, and it's exciting to get to play with some players that haven't played with before too," he told The Canberra Times.
"My father was really proud when I got the call.
"Camp has been fun and it's been good to get some experience with players like Kenny Bromwich, and now I'm hoping to put my best foot forward."
While he'd like to remain in green if the club aim to re-sign him, Mooney also wants to keep his options open.
"I feel like [my career] is piecing itself together slowly over time. It's been a journey and hopefully we keep progressing," he said.
"Playing good footy is always at the forefront of my mind more than anything. If I'm playing good footy, everything else [contracts] will handle itself.
"I love Canberra and it's become home, but at the same time I'll never shut the door to opportunity."
Scoring his first NRL try in the finals last year certainly put him on the right track, and Mooney is not afraid of growing competition among the forward group, with some new additions in the off-season like Englishman Morgan Smithies.
"We have depth in our forward pack, but at the same time I'm knocking on that door and pushing for a spot," he said.
"We lost a few players last year but we gained a lot as well.
"It's exciting we have a young squad and I think we're going to do something special."
AT A GLANCE
Men: Indigenous All Stars v Maori All Stars, Friday 8.10pm at Townsville
Women: Indigenous All Stars v Maori All Stars, Friday 5.50pm at Townsville