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Red V rookie Cody Ramsey stole the NRL Nines show in Perth with a stunning tournament debut, yet still cast his mind 4000km away to a hospital room on the NSW Central Coast.

With "Jude" inscribed on his right wrist, the 20-year-old Dragon made a point of waving his strapping tape to TV cameras moments after his incorrectly awarded try knocked Penrith out of the tournament.

Trumping his quartet of birthday tries, thrills, spills and team of the tournament honours for Ramsey – acknowledging a close family friend who is tragically fighting a losing battle with cancer.

"My mum's friend has been diagnosed with cancer, Judie," Ramsey told on Saturday.

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"She's mum's best friend and she lives up in Gosford. She's in hospital right, I'm hoping she was watching today and could take a little boost out of the shout out. 

"It's been a pretty crazy day to be honest, I never thought it'd go like this but it's been great fun."

Crazy is the word for Ramsey's first foray onto the NRL landscape. But St George Illawarra officials have been expecting big things of the scraggly-haired country boy for some time. understands plans are in the works for a new contract to be negotiated over the next month after Ramsey impressed in his first pre-season training with the St George Illawarra top squad.

He is already signed for both 2020 and 2021 on an under 20s deal but that will require upgrading if he continues his Nines form in the 13-man format.

Hailing from the same Orange CYMS junior club as Raiders gun Jack Wighton, he arrived at the club in 2017 and hasn't looked back since, being crowned under 20s player of the year and now targeting a first-grade debut in 2020.

A plumbing apprenticeship belies the flash and flair coach Paul McGregor is an unabashed fan of, while Matt Dufty's unfortunate fractured cheekbone will help his cause for a Telstra Premiership berth.

"Mary [McGregor] is just telling me to work hard and back myself," Ramsey said.

"He's backing my ability and that's a real boost for me and my confidence. First grade is the goal this year. That's why I'm here and what I'm aiming for.

"I wasn't thinking I'd be scoring that many tries or anything at all [at the Nines]. I just wanted to keep my head down and play some footy.

"The boys had a cracker, I was lucky to be amongst it and get some good touches, I couldn't have done it without them playing well."

Riding every up and down of the tournament – Ramsey didn't line up in the final due to a shoulder complaint – were his dad Jamie and childhood mates Jordan and Trent.

The trio's cross-country trip proved well worth the while as Ramsey's razzle dazzle helped drive the Dragons to an impressive runners-up finish.

"I think they're proud of me, when people make a trip like this to watch you play it means a lot, it doesn't matter how you play," he said.

"But the old man has been stoked all day, he's been here the entire time and he wasn't hassling me about that Penrith try he was so happy. I apologised to those boys, can't do much about that one."

Acknowledgement of Country

St George Illawarra Dragons respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders peoples, where our games are played, our programs are conducted and in the communities we support.

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