Corey Horsburgh started the 2019 season with a small goal of playing in eight NRL games, but by the end of the year, he had played 22 – including the grand final. Not bad for an down-to-earth kid from Caboolture.
The Canberra Raiders young gun also represented his country to boot as part of the Junior Kangaroos side that proved dominant against France.
“It was a pretty big year,” Horsburgh said.
“I got to debut for the club, was lucky enough to hold my spot for most of the year and ended up playing in a finals series and making the grand final, so that was pretty special to be a part of and I am hoping to bring that form into this year, if not better.
“At the start, I only played four games and I got dropped, so that was pretty hard to take early in the year, but once I got back in, I really just tried to back myself.
“If you don’t back yourself in the top level, you are not going to stay up there, so that’s what I started doing.
“I started to really enjoy it and hopefully do the same this year and I am really, really excited.”
And just on that grand final result, the imposing forward said the club had addressed their feelings toward it, and he personally used the close 14-8 loss to the Sydney Roosters to help drive him forward.
“We talked about (making the grand final) as being something to be proud about and it has made us a bit hungrier for 2020,” Horsburgh said.
“We were so close, but no one talks about that. We want to be remembered for winning a grand final, not losing it.”
With almost a full season at the top level under his belt, he has found this year’s pre-season training to be more manageable than in his debut year; last-minute switch from Canberra to the Sunshine Coast notwithstanding.
“We came up to the Sunny Coast and had a 10-day camp, was good to get away from smoky Canberra, it was a good little getaway, but it was hard,” Horsburgh said.
“It’s been tough, not as tough as last year, just 'cause obviously it was a bit longer.
“I think I am slowly getting used to it, but it’s still been tough and hard to get your head around sometimes, but nearly over.
“I want to take what I learnt from last year and hopefully have a stronger year than last year and tick off some goals and enjoy footy.”
The Redcliffe junior, who was a talented all-round athlete as a youngster, has already achieved one major milestone before the season has even kicked off with his selection in the Queensland Maroons squad.
“It’s pretty surreal, seeing all the big dogs, it’s a bit hard to be yourself around them, but I’ll get there,” Horsburgh said at the start of camp at the weekend.
“I want to get to know them, open up a bit, and get to act normal around all of them, have a laugh with them.”
Although he had some work to do with the more established members of the Maroons squad, Horsburgh was pleased to see some familiar faces join him in camp.
Both Reed Mahoney and Thomas Flegler last played with him in the young Kangaroos squad, and before that, in their interstate victory in their Under 20 Origin match in 2018.
“Reed and Flegler, I get along with all those boys, so it’s good to see them in this as well, and I am sure they will be doing the same thing as well, I am sure they will be soaking it all up,” Horsburgh said.
“I can start talking with them and then work up to the older boys!”