LEWIS McKISSICK faces the most important fortnight of a rugby career that started 10 years ago in the Minchinhampton Minis.
McKissick, an 18-year-old winger who has switched codes from union to league this year, travels out to Belgium this weekend for a tournament as a member of the England Colleges rugby league side.
And on his return he is hoping to make his debut for the University of All Golds first team which plays in the Kingstone Press Championship, perhaps in the home match against York City Knights on August 3.
“I feel I need to get cracking with my league career,” said the confident McKissick.
“I have trained hard and bulked up by putting on weight and I am also faster now. I think I am ready to play for the All Golds first team.”
McKissick, who lives in the shadow of the Winstones ice cream factory in Stroud, began his long association with Minchinhampton RFC at U9s level. He has also played for Dursley RFC.
It is perhaps no surprise that he has now turned his back on the union game.
“I have played in a couple of finals at Twickenham and on both occasions we drew, losing out only on the toss of a coin,” he said.
“I love playing for Minch and I turned out for the Rams (reserves) earlier this season only to get knocked out and require six stitches in a head wound.
“About six weeks later I had a one-off game for the firsts when we lost narrowly in a Combination Cup match.”
McKissick was a part of the Gloucester Academy from 2009-2013, Hartpury College Elite from 2013-2014, and has representative honours with Gloucestershire U16s and U18s.
But he went along for the South West College rugby league trials in December and then really caught the eye of the selectors at a divisional tournament held at Nottingham University in the spring.
“I scored two length-of-the-pitch tries which must have helped,” said McKissick.
He heard last week that he was on the trip to Belgium in a strong squad of 25 and he will be accompanied by three fellow members of the University of Gloucestershire All Golds U19s’ Academy – Dale Cooper, Frankie Foster and fellow winger Josh Williams.
“I intend sticking with rugby league,” insisted McKissick, who will be studying strength and conditioning from September at the University of Gloucestershire.
“I am very grateful for the chance I am getting with the All Golds but I do think I can use it as a shop window to play at a higher level," he said.