Soloman bounces back to claim Raiders starting spot

HE almost gave up on his aspirations to one day play in the NRL after just two games for the Canberra Raiders National Youth Competition side last year.

But a new season has brought a new outlook for Queanbeyan Kangaroos young gun Brett Soloman who will make his starting debut for the Raiders under-20s against Newcastle this weekend. 

Having featured off the bench just twice in 2013 for the Raiders NYC squad, Soloman instead played most of the year with his Kangaroos in the Canberra Raiders Cup, leaving him to consider giving his Raiders hopes away completely.

A renewed desire to press his claims however, in part sparked by Kangaroos coach and former NRL representative Aaron Gorrell, has seen a re-energised Solomon force his way back into contention. 

"This year I tried to have a big pre-season. Last year I let it slip a bit," Solomon acknowledged.

"I played a lot more local footy last year, so this year I thought, 'no, I want to step it up and have a big pre-season'."

"Hopefully the coach [Mick Mantelli] has been impressed [and] now I've just got to show him what I've got and just hold that spot."

Soloman had great success early in his playing career, representing the NSW under-16s State of Origin side in 2011 where he played in front of a packed house at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium. 

In 2012 and 2013 he played in the Raiders SG Ball under 18's representative team before making his NYC debut in June last year against South Sydney.

But after proving unable to crack a consistent spot in the Canberra line-up, Solomon admitted his confidence had taken a hit. 

"I thought about giving up," he said. "[But] I was talking to the boys at the Kangaroos and they told me never to give up.

"Just the solid heads the older boys have got on their shoulders, they're good to listen to."Playing with Goz [Aaron Gorrell] especially, it give me the extra drive really. So that's when I started enjoying footy again."

Fellow local junior Josh Baker has also been named on the Raiders bench for this week's clash while Kangaroos teammates Jarrad McIlwrick and Jed Pearce are in Canberra's wider under-20s squad.

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