Walcha farm boy Morgan Dunn fell in love with Aussie rules when he started playing the sport at age 12.
Inverell year 12 student Lachie Martin was "born and bred" to play the sport, having spent the first decade of his life in country Victoria.
On Saturday in western Sydney, Dunn and Martin will play the biggest match of their young lives when they line up for the Swans Academy in an under-17 clash against the Giants Academy. The match is game one in the selection process for the under-17 NSW/ACT Rams.
The 17-year-olds dream of playing in the AFL. That dream is now sharper in focus.
Before leaving for Sydney on Thursday morning, Dunn was having difficulty processing what awaited him on Saturday: its importance. It was all "a bit overwhelming" but he "can't wait for the challenge, and hopefully we're ready to go".
Dunn said that getting this chance had been a "struggle" because of the distances he had to travel to play games.
It's sort of opened up a pathway for us - and it's starting to feel more realistic, this dream.
"But since we've [he and Martin] been doing NIAS [its AFL program] and since this Swans stuff come up, it's sort of opened up a pathway for us - and it's starting to feel more realistic, this dream," he added.
In year 11 at Walcha Central School, midfielder Dunn is in his first full year with the New England Nomads. He and Martin, who attends Macintyre High School, had four training sessions with the Swans Academy last year.
"We've sort of been on their list for a while, and they sort of give us the call up Monday night," Dunn said.
Martin's parents are Sonia Martin, the AFL North West president, and Alan Martin, the NIAS AFL program's head coach in 2018-19. It was Alan who got the teens their chance at the Swans, Dunn said.
Martin, a half-back for the Inverell Saints, described Saturday's encounter as "pretty cool". He added: "A bit of pressure riding on your shoulders, but I'm just keen to put it [the jersey] on, have a crack and see where we can go with it."
Martin's path to this point has been punctuated by a number of injuries. As such, he said he had been forced to "dig a lot deeper".
This year he had "a crack" at preseason training because he wasn't injured - a rarity in recent years. "And I think the rewards are gonna hopefully pay off," he said.