Growing up in Lithgow – 90 minutes west of Penrith – Wayde Egan was just a young kid from the bush who had a dream of landing a gig at an NRL club.
Rather than waiting for a scout or recruitment officer to travel west and identify him, Egan took it upon himself to help make his dream of playing in the NRL one day a reality.
Speaking with the Weekender this week, the 21-year-old dummy half revealed the incredible back story behind his move over the famous Blue Mountains to Penrith back in 2015.
“I was somehow friends with Nathan Cleary on Facebook and I messaged him one day asking if the club needed any hookers to play SG Ball,” Egan recalled.
“Nath said the club was pretty light on hookers, so I came down and trialled.
“I remember wearing jumper number 22 in the SG Ball trial team and playing half a game. Benny Harden (coach) picked me and I started playing SG Ball that season. I then signed with the U20s for the next two years after that.”
Last Thursday night in Townsville, Wayde Egan’s dream was finally realised when he made his first grade debut during Penrith’s emphatic win over the North Queensland Cowboys.
While Egan recorded less than 10 minutes on the field, he’ll remember the night for the rest of his life.
“It was unreal, it’s been a dream of mine since I was five-years-old to play NRL and to get a little taste the other night was very special,” Egan said.
“Hook told myself, Jarome Luai and Nick Lui-Toso to fly up but I didn’t know I was the one playing until the Captain’s Run the day before.
“The club ended up flying my Mum and Dad up and put them up in accommodation. It was unreal.”
Interestingly, Egan’s NRL debut came at the expense of the Facebook friend who assisted him in getting a start at Penrith in the first place.
“It was very unlucky for Nath to get injured, I’d love to play with him in first grade one day,” Egan said.
“My contract runs out at the end of next year, it’s definitely a goal of mine to make first grade a regular thing.”
Egan was named in last year’s Holden Cup Team of the Year and has long been viewed as the man to replace captain Peter Wallace when he retires. He said he’s learned a lot from the veteran hooker over the last few months and would love to replace him when Wallace hangs up the boots.
“I really hope so… Wal’s taught me a lot in the off-season, I’ve done a lot of work with him,” he said.
“I’ve really improved my kicking game thanks to him and I’d love to play at Penrith my whole life.”
Nathan Taylor is the Western Weekender’s award-winning sports journalist. Nathan is also the Weekender’s Deputy Editor.