Jack Hartwig’s had a pretty decent 2018 – country championship win, a NSW representative jumper and a place on a NSW Country tour, not bad at all.
But it’s just gotten a whole lot better.
The 16-year-old Forbes Magpies junior has inked a three-year deal with NRL club the Canterbury Bulldogs, one that allows the tough-as-nails back-rower to both stay at home in Forbes until he finishes school at Red Bend Catholic College and enable the representative star to hone his skills at Belmore, with the view of making the trek to Sydney come the 2020 season.
Hartwig represented the NSW Indigenous under 16s side this season, captained Western to a Andrew Johns Cup victory in the under 16s country championship and earned a place in the NSW Country side, all of which was somewhat expected given the immense talent of the Magpies’ gun.
But the Bulldogs deal came a little bit out of the blue, or blue and white, if you will.
“We were at a Rams game in Harden and I went off to get a drink and one of the Rams managers called me over and we had a chat (with Canterbury officials),” he said.
“I’m very excited, I’m definitely keen to get down there and work hard and give it a really solid crack. I’ve got the foot in the door now.
“It’s always been a major goal to go down and play for a Sydney club. The desire’s always been there to do that, but it’s all a bit surreal now.”
Hartwig will head off to Belmore for camps three times a year for the duration of his contract, then line-up for the Dogs in the Jersey Flegg competition in 2020. There’s also an option in Hartwig’s favour to extend his stay for the 2021 season as well.
In the mean time at Forbes, Hartwig’s gunning for a couple of titles in the junior ranks before eyeing off bigger fish in 2019.
“I’d love to maybe play a bit of first grade here, I stay at home until I’m 18 and graduate from school and will continue to play here, so that’d be great to do that,” he added.
“We’re going well in the under 16s and the under 18s are on top as well.
The desire’s always been there to do that, but it’s all a bit surreal now.Forbes' Jack Hartwig.
“Continuing to help out there and then doing well for NSW Country later in the year are the main goals for the rest of the season.”
The Bulldogs already boast some Western alumni in their ranks, with Gulgong’s Josh Jackson skippering the side in 2018.
Andrew Ryan, from Dubbo, also won a premiership with the club in 2004.
Hartwig is hoping he can continue to add to the list of junior Rams back-rowers progressing into the blue and white at Belmore, even if he’s initial dreams had a dash of red in there as well.
“I am a Roosters fan,” Hartwig laughs.
“But I’ll support the Dogs when I can from now on.”