NEWCASTLE'S Toby Gray returns to Sydney grade cricket on Saturday as a Sheffield Shield player "hungry for more" and appreciative of support from Test spinner Nathan Lyon.
Gray, 21 and fresh from debuting for NSW, hopes this week's experience in the state squad won't be his last.
"I'll play grade for NDs [Northern Districts] on Saturday, but hopefully I'll get another opportunity or two with the Blues this season," Gray told the Newcastle Herald.
"At this stage I've just got to keep playing club cricket and keep performing.
"If anything that [Shield] game has just made me hungry for more."
Shield cellar dwellers NSW have five matches remaining in 2022-23, including one next week in Victoria and two more at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) after Christmas.
Gray took 3-58 and 0-46 during the Blues' 133-run loss to Western Australia at the SCG. Play finished on Thursday with a day-and-a-half to spare.
"It was a pretty awesome experience. Even though we didn't get the result we wanted, it was great to be part of it and I enjoyed every minute of it," the NSW rookie said.
Gray, a Valentine junior and Belmont senior, was called up to the Blues squad last weekend and given the starting nod on game eve.
Before play got underway on Tuesday, Gray reckons it was "pretty special" to be presented with his "Baggy Blue" cap by Lyon.
"I haven't played with him [Lyon] before, but I've done a bit of training with him in the NSW set up over the last four or five months," he said.
"As long as I've known him he's always been really supportive and helps me out, letting me in on what it's like to play at that next level and what you need to do to be competitive at that next level.
"I guess he's pushed me along that path and tried to get me in the best position I can to play for NSW. I'm very grateful for his support over the last few months."
Gray says it was "a bit of an old school SCG wicket" with 40 wickets falling inside three-and-a-half days. Claiming his first scalp helped "settle the nerves".
Newcastle was also represented in the fixture by NSW vice-captain Jason Sangha.
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