Taylan May’s one big debut regret

Taylan May made his debut for Penrith last weekend. Photo: NRL Photos.
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Taylan May is the name on everyone’s lips this week after enjoying one of the best NRL debuts by a Panther in several years.

The 19-year-old local junior got the surprise call-up late last week after Brent Naden was scratched and, despite the limited preparation and lack of footy recently, was a standout in his very first game.

And while most kids who make their NRL debut get to do it in front of a packed house with family and friends watching on, May had to do it all alone with 50,000 empty seats surrounding him.

“Obviously I wish they were there, especially my family and close friends because they’ve been with me through it all, but it is what it is,” May told the Weekender on Tuesday.

“But I felt pretty good out there… coach and the boys had faith in me and they trusted me, which made it easier.

“Coach made me feel comfortable and the boys made me feel comfortable. I knew they had my back, so it just made everything easier.”

Not even his older brother, Panthers utility Tyrone May, was able to watch the game from the stands due to strict health and safety protocols in Brisbane last week. Fortunately Tyrone, who is currently sidelined with a knee injury, was still a huge part of his little brother’s debut – handing him his first NRL jersey prior to the match while also speaking from the heart about what Taylan, affectionately known as ‘Tiny’, means to him.

The video of May’s jersey presentation was released online last Sunday evening, garnering thousands of views and plenty of tears.

“It was different to see that side of him, just hearing him say things like he loves me. He doesn’t really tell me that much, so it was pretty cool to hear… I didn’t know he had it in him,” May said of Tyrone’s emotional speech.

“It’s crazy, I remember watching his debut [in 2017]. He’s taught me a lot of things throughout pre-season and all that, and when we were little.

“Hopefully we can play together one day. I just have to keep on training hard and just do the little things… whatever happens, happens.”

With Origin winger Brian To’o still sidelined for several weeks with an ankle injury, fans can look forward to seeing plenty more of Penrith’s newest sensation over the coming weeks.

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