St George Illawarra Dragons National Youth Competition second-rower Luciano Leilua is still ‘buzzing’ following his first-grade debut in the 12-8 loss to the Brisbane Broncos at WIN Stadium, Wollongong on Thursday.
The local Hurtville United junior had been a late inclusion into the team following the suspension of Tyson Frizell and was named on the interchange for the wet and sodden fixture.
The former Australia Schoolboys representative competed for 50 minutes in front of his family and supporters and made 27 tackles, one offload as well as an impressive seven runs for 58 metres.
Leilua notes that he would enjoy the opportunity to add to this tally if a second selection was afforded to him but admits he likewise as keen to help his fellow teammates within the Young Dragons squad.
“I was absolutely buzzing being out there in the action and playing against who I did,” said Leilua.
“It was a lot faster and more physical than what I have been used to but I am proud of my effort.
“I was surprised when I was told the news that I would be playing but it was an opportunity I took with both hands.
“I was on the phone to my parents straight away and they were all here to watch me play my game which was cool.
“I could hardly sleep the night before as I was obviously nervous but all the boys told me to simply calm down.
“Mary simply told me to go out and play my game and take on what was in front of me which is what I did.
“I would be happy to get another crack playing at this level if given the chance again but just as happy to play my role with the NYC team if needed.”