THE first outing of Launceston's Jackson Thurlow on the big stage as a Geelong footballer could come sooner rather than later.
A strong performance across half-back against North Melbourne in a practice match last week has Thurlow in the frame for the Cats' opening round encounter with Hawthorn.
The AFL website this week reported Geelong's coaching staff were impressed with Thurlow's ``good skills and sound decision-making''.
``I had no idea what to expect,'' Thurlow told the website.
``But once we got out there, went through our warm-up and got into it, I was fine.
``Obviously, it wasn't just like another game of footy, because you were playing against the blokes you were watching on TV last year.
``But I really enjoyed that. It was a good first insight into what it's like, I guess.
``I haven't got the biggest frame going around, so I need to work on a my strength a little bit.
``But I didn't get knocked about too much.''
The 16th pick in last year's national draft has gradually built up his training load at the Cats after recovering from the facial fractures he received at West Park during the State League finals series.
Before the Easter Monday date with the Hawks, Thurlow will need to continue to impress the right people in the coming NAB Cup.
``Head down, bum up, I guess that's the term that's been thrown around a fair bit from my family,'' he said.
``Hopefully I can play some good footy in the preseason and get a senior game. I've certainly got a few goals in place to get to that.''
The Cats will begin their preseason campaign against the West Australian sides at Patersons Stadium on Saturday, February 16.
Thurlow was one of three young Tasmanians to be drafted last year.
Thurlow's Launceston teammate Jesse Lonergan was picked up by the Gold Coast, and Lauderdale's Sam Siggins went to Adelaide.