You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content

Pat Vaivai always knew his partner Kirstin was proud of him, but this was something else.

In a special tribute to honour his NRL debut against Penrith on Sunday, Kirstin made up a banner with the word 'Vaivai' on it. 

Written in big blue and red bold letters, the banner stood out like a beacon on the southern hill at Hunter Stadium.

"Yeah I’ve got to thank my missus for that," Vaivai grinned when asked about the banner post-match.

"You know, she is a proud supporter.

"I tried to tell her not to do it, but you can’t tell her what to do (laughs)."   

Vaivai only played nine minutes in his maiden top grade match, but the New Zealand-born bookend still loved every minute of the step up in class. 

He admits the speed of the game was the major difference compared to the NSW Cup or NYC ranks.

"I was excited and it was a great experience," he says.

"It was pretty fast out there though. It was the fastest game I’ve ever played.

"There is not much of a difference besides the speed, but I guess the outside backs are a lot stronger.

"When they are coming at you, you’ve got to brace yourself."

One of these outside backs was Penrith big man Jamal Idris, a player Vaivai is more than happy to admit he idolises. 

"I was pretty star struck hey, but I just had to do my job and I couldn’t look at him and just say, ‘wow’," he says.

"Words can’t express how proud I am to make my debut though, especially on Mother’s Day.

"My mum is doing it single out there, so a shout out to my mum."

Vaivai may drop back to NSW Cup ranks in round ten with the return of Willie Mason and Korbin Sims, but he has vowed to work overtime to earn a place in the NRL team. 

"There is so much I can learn," he says.

"From that first 10-minute stint I did play, I can work on my fitness that’s the main thing.

"But it was good to get it out of the way and hopefully I get another chance."