Penrith’s latest debutant Daine Laurie has revealed the unique connection he has with Panthers teammate and try scoring machine Brent Naden.
Early last year the pair forged a strong bond while laying cables for the NBN together.
While Naden had to quit his day job when he made his NRL debut mid-last season, Laurie continued his work with the NBN all the way through to November.
Little did they know at the time but the friendship the duo formed whilst laying cables across Sydney would prove beneficial out on the footy field.
21-year-old Laurie, who made his NRL debut in the dying stages of last Saturday night’s win against Canberra, credited Naden as one of the players that has helped him the most.
“Brent Naden, I was working with him all last year until he made his debut [in May], so I’m pretty close with him,” he told Extra Time.
“I’m always asking him questions about how to play and he gives good advice. He also picks me up when I’m down and that kind of stuff. He’s a good bloke.”
With Penrith short on backs due to a number of injuries, Laurie’s dream of playing in the NRL became a reality last week when coach Ivan Cleary informed him he was making his debut in front of all of his teammates.
The emotional moment was captured on film and was later released on the club’s social media channels. Overcome with emotion at the time, Laurie said he was in disbelief.
— Penrith Panthers (@PenrithPanthers) August 11, 2020
“It was a big shock, I didn’t see it coming,” he said.
“In the past Ivan usually tells the boys beforehand if they’re debuting or not. But he just surprised me and said it all in front of the boys… it was a big shock.”
While Laurie only entered the field for the final six minutes of the game, it was six minutes that he’ll never forget. After four tough but rewarding years in the Panthers system, a lifelong dream was finally realised for Laurie, who hails from NSW’s North Coast.
“It was hard moving away from home and there were times that I did feel homesick, but I always wanted to be an NRL player and that’s what motivated me to stay down here,” Laurie admitted.
“I wanted to make my family proud and hopefully send a good message to the kids back home to follow their dreams.”
The nippy fullback was once again named on Penrith’s bench for tonight’s clash against the New Zealand Warriors in Gosford.
Laurie said whatever happens moving forward, he’s just grateful he’s been given a chance to shine.
“The end goal is to become a starting player, but you have the likes of Caleb Aekins and Dylan Edwards here,” he said.
“I just have to bide my time, I’m only a young fella and have plenty of time to be starting in first grade.”
Nathan Taylor is the Weekender’s Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for nearly a decade.