In what was far from an easy debut, Carlos Tuimavave seized the opportunity to impress on the NRL stage against his former Club, the New Zealand Warriors on Sunday afternoon.
With the Newcastle Knights missing captain Kurt Gidley and Jarrod Mullen, the 23-year-old became the 259th player to pull on the red and blue jersey.
Yet the team's backup plan was derailed when halfback Tyrone Roberts fell awkwardly in a tackle and injured his ankle early in the first half, not to return for the rest of the match.
Tyler Randell stepped up from the bench to join Tuimavave in the halves.
Having debuted with the Warriors in Round 22 of the 2012 season, he appeared on nine occasions in the NRL for the Auckland based team before signing a two-year contract with Knights.
“It was good to come back to New Zealand and play in front of my family and friends,” Tuimavave said following the game.
“I was just happy to get my NRL opportunity as it’s been a long time since I’ve played NRL.
“To play in front of my family was a bonus.”
The Samoan International handled the daunting prospect of facing up against his former teammates at Mount Smart Stadium with aplomb and went on to pull off a try assist and showcase his kicking ability.
“Once I made my first tackle, it just felt like a normal footy game,” he said.
“I kind of knew how some of them played, but it was still tough.”
Without a significant portion of the team’s playmakers and experienced forwards, Tuimavave was determined to put his best foot forward.
“That was tough on the team and I think Tyler did a great job coming in and playing half back,” he said about Roberts' absence.
“The two of us just had to stand up and try to steer the team around, we did an alright job, but it wasn’t good enough.
“I just played footy and didn’t change my game too much.
“We just stuck to our game plan and I stuck to our process and just tried to do the best I can.”
The Knights return from New Zealand on Monday and will assess the injury list before announcing the Round 13 team on Tuesday afternoon.