Jason Qareqare was in dreamland after announcing himself to the Betfred Super League with a spectacular debut try for Castleford Tigers against Hull FC.
The 17-year-old was thrust into the starting line-up for the Thursday night clash live on Sky Sports with the Tigers missing six players from their Challenge Cup semi-final win over Warrington Wolves last Saturday.
Qareqare immediately repaid the faith shown in him by head coach Daryl Powell by racing away to score the opening try with just 44 seconds gone and although Castleford ultimately went on to lose 30-12, the Kippax Welfare product still had plenty to smile about.
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“When he called me, it kind of felt like a dream,” Qareqare, who is still at school, told Sky Sports about the moment Powell phoned to tell him he would be starting against Hull.
“I was in maths class, the phone picked up and I had to pinch myself because it literally felt like a dream.
“Of course, it was a loss, but getting that try with my first touch of the game was brilliant – it’s an out-of-this-world feeling. Having the crowd behind me as well was amazing.”
Qareqare was not named in Castleford’s initial 21-man squad announced for this match, but was drafted into the side after three players pulled out during the team’s final training session.
His try was one of few highlights for the Tigers on a difficult evening at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle and Powell was full of praise for how a player who has limited training time with the Tigers due to his education commitments acquitted himself.
“I’m made up for him,” Powell said in his post-match press conference. “For a young bloke to make his debut and do that with his first touch, I thought that was a great moment.
“There was not a lot to cheer for us today, but that was worthy of getting on your feet. He is still at school, so he trains with us in the school holidays and at weekends.”
Powell is not the only one facing injury problems, with opposite number Brett Hodgson seeing his Hull team left counting the cost of their win over the Challenge Cup finalists.
Already without Josh Griffin, who sustained a season-ending ruptured Achilles in last Saturday’s Cup semi-final defeat to St Helens, the Black and Whites lost two other centres to injury in the five-try victory.
Carlos Tuimavave went off with a hamstring problem after 27 minutes and Cameron Scott had his shoulder in a sling after the match.
“It doesn’t look good for either of them,” said Hodgson, who looks set to call on former British Army winger Mitieli Vulikijapani, who was this week recalled from his loan spell at Bradford Bulls, for the next game at Leigh Centurions.
“Cam is a bad one for us because he was providing that cover, so we are going to have to find someone. We were down to 20 fit players already so it’s going to make it difficult.
“I think we saw two flat teams out there today. Backing up after five days from the enormity of the Challenge Cup, it was always going to be difficult to play five days later.
“Thankfully we came away with the two points. The try before half-time was crucial and I was really happy with the way we started the second half.”
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