PLAYING against the best schoolboy rugby league talents in Australia as a state representative - it's another box ticked off from the list of Tom Lemmich's season goals.
Last week the Saint Stanislaus' College student was ripping in as a member of the New South Wales Combined Independent Schools under 18s at the Australian Secondary Schools Rugby League Championships.
That comes after he played for the under 18 Western Rams in the Laurie Daley Cup earlier this year.
So while Stannies is known as an excellent breeding ground for rugby union talents, Lemmich is proof that league stars are at the Bathurst school too.
"I really love league, I've played union, but I'm just focussing on league at the moment," he said.
Making the under 18 NSW CHS side was a goal that Lemmich set himself at the start of the season.
He'd previously represented NSW CHS at under 15s level and last year made the 18s squad, but not the final side that went to the Australian championships.
"I went up to the first trial at Sydney and then there was a squad of about 50 kids selected in the final squad to trial at Narrabeen at Sydney," Lemmich explained.
"For three days we stayed there and that's where a lot more kids who have played a lot of higher rep footy were. We all came together and did skills and contact and ran all the plays and just got ready.
"At the end of those three days the coaches picked a 20-man team to go the championship.
"It was really good, I really enjoyed the training we were doing. I just listened and tried my best and it worked out really well.
"I was in the squad last year but didn't end up making the team, so I came back really excited and wanting to put my best foot forward and make it. It was my last year."
The championships were held at Moreton Daily Stadium, the same ground that the Redcliffe Dolphins will use when joining the NRL next year.
Lemmich and his NSW CIS team-mates opened their campaign with a 22-20 win over NSW CHS, but found the going tougher in game two against Queensland, suffering a 40-10 loss.
"We played pretty well the first half against Queensland, they just got away from us in the second half. It's a bit hard because New South Wales has three teams, CHS, CIS and CCC, and Queensland only have one," Lemmich explained.
"But I really enjoyed playing that level, it was really fast. Playing with all the boys at Bathurst Panthers really got me ready for that level."
In NSW CIS's final match it came up against a NSW CCC side that included St Pat's graduate Myles Martin, who now attends All Saints College Maitland.
NSW CCC won 34-4.
While only getting the one win, Lemmich still enjoyed the chance to compete at that representative level.
He also got a crack at a new position as after initially being selected in the front row, spent time at hooker and lock.
"I was just really keen to go up and play my best and just try and have a crack at that level. I was just so happy to make CIS again. I was really happy with how it went and I really enjoyed it," he said.
"I haven't really played at hooker before to be honest, but I just jumped in because one of the boys, the reserve hooker was out. That meant I moved to lock and hooker instead of playing prop.
"Playing lock is just a bit more comfort for me and it was good to try hooker, I enjoyed it."
Now Lemmich's focus shifts to club football and he's hoping to add a premiership or two to his list of season 2022 achievements.
He is a key figure for Bathurst Panthers in the Western Under 18s premiership, while Lemmich is also enjoying good minutes off the bench for the first grade outfit in the Peter McDonald Premiership.
"I've really enjoy my footy this year, so I'm really keen to finish well and hopefully we can finish on top with Panthers this year," he said.
"In the 18s we're the top Group 10 side, so hopefully we can keep the minor premiership in Group 10 then we'll play second place in the Group 11 pool in the semis.
"For the Peter Mc I've been playing nearly every game off the bench, so I'm really happy about that and that's probably why I was so ready for schoolboys. All the players there are just freaks."
Bathurst Panthers will head to Mudgee on Saturday for the latest round of the Western under 18s and Peter McDonald Premiership.
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