Tigers cubs excel in NRL debut
Sunday's thrilling golden point loss to the Storm might have been the Wests Tigers' fifth loss on the trot, but it did provide a few positives with the club able to present two youngsters with their NRL debuts.
Highly touted speedster Josh Addo-Carr lived up to the hype running for 104 metres and scoring a try in place of the injured David Nofoaluma, while JJ Felise looked comfortable against the much vaunted Melbourne pack.
Having excelled in the Intrust Super Premiership this season, Addo-Carr – a former NYC star - says Sunday's NRL debut was a dream come true.
"It was a good experience and a good opportunity for myself. It's a lifelong dream and I can't believe it has come true," Addo-Carr said.
"I found out at the captain's run in the morning. I was so surprised. I felt like crying. It was a big relief."
Having scored 28 tries in 44 Holden up games for the Sharks, it didn't take long for Addo-Carr to take that form into the NRL, crossing just 10 minutes into his debut.
The 20-year-old celebrated the try by paying respect to the indigenous community and his family.
"It was for my family around NSW and Queensland. I told them I'd do that to represent them," the Tigers winger said.
"I was just over the moon. It doesn't come every day to score a try on your debut. It was mad."
Sunday's golden point loss to the Storm was as tough an initiation as you can get in first grade, and Addo-Carr says it was a big step up from the junior ranks.
"It gives me a bit of confidence especially playing against Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith. I think that was a good experience for myself," he said.
"It's being more consistent. You have to kick to the corners and get repeat sets. The first team to make a mistake, that's the turning point of the game. It's got the speed of Holden Cup but the contact of NSW Cup."
The confident winger says he couldn't believe his first game in the top grade went to extra time, and despite the loss, is confident the Tigers aren't far off from returning to winning ways.
"It was disappointing, especially on debut. Golden point – I wasn't expecting that," he said.
"The boys hung in there for 80 minutes and that was the game plan from the start. If we execute then we'll be a more dangerous team and no one will stop us."
Playing inside him at centre, Kevin Naiqama had a better view of Addo-Carr's debut that anyone else.
"Josh had a real good debut...obviously scoring," the Tigers centre said.
"Other than that he had some strong carries and made some tackles. He can definitely take a lot of confidence out of that game and I'm sure we'll see more of him in the future playing on the wing."
The other debutante on Sunday afternoon was Holden Cup star JJ Felise, who ran for 58 metres and made 18 tackles in a 29-minute stint against one of the most formidable packs in the competition.
Experienced teammate Ava Seumanufagai says Felise handled himself with aplomb against the likes of Jesse Bromwich and Tohu Harris, and is predicting big things from the 20-year-old in the years to come.
"He went really well. He held his own. We'll be seeing more of him in the future," the Tigers forward said.
"He's quite a quiet bloke so we just went up to him and encouraged him and told him he's got the goods to be there so I'm just really happy for him."