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Rudolf relishes 'absolute rush' of first NRL try

If Toby Rudolf could bottle the feeling of scoring his first NRL try he would.

It was a four-pointer of extreme importance. It was against the club he nearly joined for 2021 and it was the match-winner in Sunday's 22-14 result against the Warriors that secured a finals berth for the Sharks.

Rudolf saw a gap from 12 metres out and just went for it – leaving four Warriors in his wake.

"It was just pure ecstasy, adrenalin, elation, all those things. The world’s happiest feeling actually – an absolute rush," Rudolf said on Monday, still on that high.

"That’s why you play the game, to be in those moments, be part of those, and share them with your mates on the field.

"If I could live in that moment for a couple of years, I would."

What a time to score your first NRL try!

It was also worth all the hair-pulling of his trademark long locks during the match.

"It was all pretty funny actually – a few elbows in the face. I sort of hoped they would leave me alone but it is rugby league."

He doesn't have any regrets about turning down the Warriors offer, even if it took a while for the Sharks to offer him an extension.

Sharks beach recovery

"I sort of agreed to terms with the Warriors the day the NRL shut down in late March and then I didn’t officially sign with the Sharks until last week," Rudolf said.

"So it was a fair few months of not being entirely sure. I had a rough idea of what was going on but not fully certain."

Now he is on his way to his first NRL finals campaign - after facing the Roosters and Raiders to round off his first season of NRL. The 24-year-old only made his debut in round one.

It's been a long and wild ride. He was with the Rabbitohs under-20s, lost his way a little and then went to Redcliffe in the Intrust Super Cup before returning to Sydney and playing in the Sharks Canterbury Cup side, Newtown.

He is one of the few players who has a premiership medallion from both the Queensland and NSW reserve grade competitions – with the Dolphins in 2018 and the Jets in 2019.

He's had to be a patient waiting for his turn in first grade. There was also an ACL tear at the end of 2018.

"Just the way things panned out earlier in my career at Souths, I knew I wasn’t done yet – I thought I had more to offer," Rudolf said.

Every try from round 18

"So whether it’s patience or pure stubbornness in not wanting to give it away, that’s the better way to describe it. I just refused to give in or believe that I couldn’t crack it."

He already has form of playing in big occasions.

"The NRL definitely adds pressure to the situation but I’m quite used to the sleepless nights before big games and then just turning up with absolutely no sleep at all but trying your best.

"I’ve played some big games at reserve (grade) level and now I can’t wait to replicate that in the NRL."

And what about that motor. His try came in the 73rd minute. Most forwards are pretty fatigued by then.

"When I was a kid I used to ride a bicycle everywhere  because Mum didn’t have a car. So a bit of that and I did a bit of rowing in high school as well so you need lungs there too," he said.

"It was always long-distance stuff. I wasn’t very fast so I needed to be good at something. I just always had that engine from being active as a kid."