Oscar Bartlett will get the opportunity to take his rugby league to the next level after being picked up by the Illawarra Steelers for the 2022 representative season.
Bartlett, who was one of the shining lights at fullback in the Gundagai Tigers Weissel Cup squad this season, was picked in the Steelers’ preliminary under 19s SG Ball squad.
The 18-year-old, who is the son of Group 9 referee Shane Bartlett, has since moved to Shellharbour and is temporarily living with his uncle and former Tiger product turned coach, Matt Clark.
“I’m staying down here at my uncle Matt’s in Shellharbour,” Bartlett said.
“We train three days a week; Monday, Wednesday and Friday and there is some Saturday training runs as well, plus we do a bit of gym work and a lot running.
“It’s all at the University of Wollongong and it’s good.”
Bartlett didn’t trial for the position, and instead, was selected based on his form with the Tigers.
“It was a surprise. I didn’t trial and haven’t played reps since I played for Group 9 in the under 15s,” Bartlett said.
“I tried to have a good year and wanted to do what I could with the Tigers before getting into senior footy and now I get this chance, which is good.”
Bartlett was pleased to get the phone call from Illawarra, and explained that he was now going about doing the hard yards and earning his place in the final Steelers squad.
“I was over the moon. I was with mum when I got the phone call and I rang all my family and a couple of my mates,” Bartlett said.
“Dad was pretty stoked about it. We were all pretty surprised but he wants me to go well and train hard and show everyone what I can do.”
The young Tiger is taking time off work while he focuses on training, but he explained that the Steelers had been very accommodating as he eyes a more permanent move to the South Coast.
“I’m a plumber but I took six weeks off to get my head around things,” Bartlett said.
“The Steelers have already approached me and want to help get me a job and a permanent place where I can stay.”
Bartlett hopes to make the fullback position his own with the Steelers, and he believed this would be his last chance to potentially make it at the higher level.
“This was my first year in the top age group of 18s and I had a good year and that helped me with my confidence,” Bartlett said.
“I play fullback but I’ll play wherever they want me to play. This is my last opportunity and I want to give it a crack and see how far I can go.”