Ulberg looks to prove a point at the Warriors
Paul Ulberg’s rugby league education has moved up a gear.
The former Aotea College student and Porirua Vikings premier grader began his preseason training with the Junior Warriors in Auckland two weeks ago.
He has done plenty of running around Porirua’s hills and sweating in the gym, but said there was the inevitable tension among the young hopefuls for starting positions next year.
‘‘It’s been hard out, especially at this time of the year,’’ he said.
‘‘There’s a lot of us and we’re all battling for spots, so every day is about proving yourself.
‘‘I’m used to this sort of work, but now it’s different, there’s so much more on the line.’’
The College Sport rugby league player of the year has had a quick rise.
The 18-year-old centre/wing made the Wellington Orcas and ended the season in the New Zealand under-18 residents side.
He won a spot at the Warriors after impressing during a trial in Wellington in October.
The realisation of what had happened didn’t sink in for days.
‘‘ I was offered a contract pretty much straight after the game.
‘‘It was more relief than anything, and it hit me later in the week. ‘‘It was just an awesome feeling.’’ Ulberg is living with his aunt and uncle in west Auckland, but will be back in Porirua for a short break over Christmas. It’s unlikely he’ll be eating a lot of Christmas fare, however, with Warriors training resuming on January 6.
Four trial games before the start of the next season will determine whether he’s won a starting spot with the Auckland club.
His dream of one day playing in the NRL was in his own hands, he said.
‘‘It’s a big step for me and I just need to work hard.’’
Rapid rise: Paul Ulberg has progressed from talented schoolboy to Warriors hopeful almost overnight.