From teacher’s aide to being schooled by Storm legend
Former teacher's aide Nicho Hynes describes it as the greatest moment of his life - the "best, most awesome thing I have ever done."
An experience he will never forget but one that has made him hungrier for more success.
Hynes made his NRL debut on August 11 last season as the backup fullback for Melbourne in their round 21 win against the Rabbitohs at Central Coast Stadium - just a stones throw from where he grew up.
But now the Central Coast born and bred footballer wants more. Much more.
Off contract at the end of the 2020 season, it is crucial Hynes make a big impression this year when the comp resumes after the coronavirus interruption.
"I have to back myself," said Hynes who returns to Melbourne this week after spending his isolation time on the Sunshine Coast with teammate Darryn Schonig.
"The goal is to really impress the coaches in training and hope I get as much time as possible."
The 23-year-old, whose love affair with league started as a five-year-old with the Umina Bunnies before moving to the Woy Woy Roosters, made the transition to Melbourne Storm and the NRL via a standout performance with the Sunshine Coast Falcons in the Intrust Super Cup in 2019.
My mum still watches me and even if I had a crap game she tells me how good I am
And while it's about as far away as he can get from his family on the Central Coast, Hynes said he loves his playing base.
"Being in Melbourne is unreal. No knows who we are," said Hynes, who grew up at Umina Beach and spent time with the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles during his teens.
"I've just been head down and bum up doing everything I can do to be a better player."
And while far from home he still has great support from his family, including brother Wade who encouraged him to stay in the game when he contemplated leaving it a few years ago.
"I just fell out of love with the game a bit when I moved away from home," he said.
"My mum still watches me and even if I had a crap game she tells me how good I am.
"They inspire me. I want to do my family proud."
Hynes, who is studying for his certificate in education support, said he is learning an enormous amount about his craft training alongside Storm legend Billy Slater.
"It is it crazy what he knows. He knows everything about every little position and he is passing all his knowledge onto me," he said.
"He is teaching me so much, to everyone."
"We get so much in one session with him. People would be paying millions to get this close to Billy."
Originally published as From teacher's aide to being schooled by Storm legend