Dream debut for confident Holland
Canterbury fans have long idolised goal-kickers Daryl Halligan and Hazem El Masri, but they might have a new one on their hands after debutant Kerrod Holland nailed an 80th-minute conversion to give his side a thrilling 18-16 win against the Panthers on Thursday night.
The rookie's right boot was the difference on the night, and helped propel the blue and white brigade to their second straight win to start 2016.
The 23-year-old played for the Singleton Greyhounds and Cessnock Goannas in the Newcastle Rugby League before spending 2015 in the centres for the NSW Cup-winning Newcastle Knights.
After being named in the NSW Cup Team of the Year, Holland signed a two-year contract to join the Bulldogs and made the most of his first opportunity in the top-grade with a performance he will long remember.
"I won't forget that one for a while mate. It was pretty special," Holland said after the game.
"It's something you always think about as a young kid, especially in the park by yourself, kicking goals. To get one on debut is outstanding."
Given teammate Moses Mbye took the first shot at goal for the Bulldogs, there was little indication early on that Holland would be needed if the game was on the line.
Holland said he felt no pressure while lining up for the match-winning kick, telling reporters that his teammates had told him they were prepared to play golden point if he did happen to miss.
"You only put pressure on yourself. All the boys came up to me before I kicked the goal and said to me 'there's no pressure mate'," the debutant said.
"The call came from Des [Hasler] pretty early so I always knew it was going to be mine."
The Canterbury coach was full of praise for his young star, saying Thursday night's heroics were just reward for the effort Holland has put in at his new club.
"He was particularly impressive in the NSW Cup last year and he was looking for an opportunity. He's worked really hard, great work ethic, and just goes about getting all those little things right and he certainly did that tonight," Hasler said.
"It's a debut that dreams are made of. It'll be particularly memorable for him, this one. I thought he was steady tonight and came up with the big plays when he had to."