TWO long-time Mackay footy mates are living their dream of playing rugby league at the highest level.
Young Souths teammates Jacob Gagai and Kyle Krisanski-Kennedy, both 17, this week started training at the NRL's lowest rung, the NSW Jersey Flegg U18 competition, for their clubs Newcastle Knights and Canterbury Bulldogs.
Gagai, a five-eighth, started training at Newcastle on Monday after linking up with his older brother Dane, who is a centre for the NRL side, while fullback Krisanski-Kennedy has been at the Bulldogs headquarters at Belmore in Sydney for just over a week.
"I started training last Wednesday, we're training Monday to Friday," Krisanski-Kennedy said yesterday.
"It's good. It's hard but good. They push you a bit more, I'm doing a lot more running than I'm used to.
"I'm just loving it here."
Krisanski-Kennedy said both he and Gagai started with Souths under-7s and had been teammates since. They also played in the Mackay State High School rugby league academy through their senior schooling.
"We're good mates," he said.
"We've never played against each other in an opposing team. It'll be interesting to see what happens when we match up in the Jersey Flegg."
Gagai said he was excited to be a part of the NRL club and living with his brother, who joined the Knights last season from the Broncos.
Dane Gagai, along with another ex-Mackay player Neville Costigan, will line up for the Knights against Bulldogs in the round 17 NRL clash at Virgin Australia Stadium on July 7.
"My first training was really good," Jacob Gagai said.
"We'll be training Monday, Wednesday and Friday to start and it will build up from there.
"I talked to Kyle the other day, we'll probably catch up with each other in Sydney this weekend."