History-making debut for Spina
Laurie Spina is somewhat of a local legend around Townsville.
Thought to have had a better arsenal of skills than Maroons legend Allan Langer in his prime, Spina, the inaugural captain of the North Queensland Cowboys, now has another honour to add to his rugby league career and it's all thanks to his son.
Twenty-six-year-old Ben Spina made his NRL debut for North Queensland on Saturday night against the St George Illawarra Dragons, making Laurie and Ben the first ever father-son duo to play first-grade football for the Cowboys.
Spina was one of four players making their senior NRL debut with the Cowboys (as well as Tautau Moga, Sam Hoare and Zac Santo) and although the two competition points went the way of the home side, the youngsters made a good first impression.
While Spina had to withdraw from the Queensland Residents team for the State of Origin III curtain-raiser on Wednesday night to make his debut, it appears to have paid off in the history-making night for the Spinas.
"It's a dream come true in a way," Spina told NRL.com.
"It was faster than anything I've ever experienced before. It was a massive shock to the system but apart from that just to get out there was a massive positive for me.
"Everyone wants to reach the top when you're playing a sport and I've tried my hardest to do the best I could and to achieve one game, and if it is only one game so be it, but it is something anyway.
"I'm obviously disappointed with the loss but I'm a little bit glad that I have finally done it."
Off-contract at that the end of the year, the fitter and welder by trade is usually found fishing or "knocking around" for Intrust Super Cup team Northern Pride but couldn't help but let his nerves get to him in the lead-up to the game.
"I found out I was playing on Friday morning. I drove to training thinking I was only going to be 18th man. [When I found out] there was a bit of emotion but it wasn't too over the top but it hit me before the game. Right from this morning to the warm-up the nerves peaked," Spina said.
"I was coming in to do a job for the boys. There is a bit of an injury toll at the moment so whether I'm needed or not for the rest of the year [and beyond], that's up to them."
With the ink barely dry on his Cowboys contract after signing from the Sydney Roosters during the week, Moga especially was happy to add to his 14 NRL games, considering he has been on the shelf with serious knee troubles over the past two seasons, after slotting in the centres against the Dragons.
"It was good to be out there again. It was pretty fast and having all these boys there especially my left edge was solid," Moga told NRL.com.
"My body is sweet and I love it up in North Queensland. Nice hot weather. It's a big move from Sydney. I'm feeling comfortable already."