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Joseph Tapine had heard all about the footy term 'engine room', but he reckons he didn't fully understand its context until his NRL debut on Sunday.

In the wake of his maiden top grade appearance against Penrith, Tapine admits he now has a true appreciation for his role as a forward.       

"Well now I know why they call it the engine room," Tapine grins.

"It’s a big step up from the 20s and playing in the middle and it's a lot faster than I thought it would be, it’s tough as.

"All of the Panthers players were solid, so I was happy when they went wide to Idris so he didn't run through the middle at me."

It may have been a tough initiation for Tapine, but the Kiwi born forward showed plenty of class in his 30 minutes on the field.   

He concedes he was battling plenty of nerves before the game, but got through thanks to the help of a few seasoned campaigners. 

"I can’t explain the nerves," he says. 

"I’ve never been that nervous in my life.

"I’m not a nervous person, but when I came to the stadium watching the 20s it hit me.

"All the older boys came up to me and it helped though. Guys like Willie Mason and Jeremy Smith and they said, ‘just get a touch of the ball early and play your game and you’ll be right'.

"I’ll get a lot of confidence playing against those professional people."

Tapine's debut match was also a special occasion for his mother Leigh Strom, who was flown over from Wellington in New Zealand by the Club to watch her son's NRL debut on Mother's Day. 

"That’s the reason I am here to play is because of mum and I’m just thankful she is here," he says. 

"I had to give her something for Mother’s Day.

"The result was bad, but I was happy my mum was here for it."