Newcastle Knights utility Tyler Randell approached the Round 12 match against the New Zealand Warriors like any other, expecting his usual game routine.
However an injury to halfback Tyrone Roberts before five minutes of the match was played changed his routine significantly.
“I was just sitting on the bench pretty relaxed, expecting to get on later in the first half, but I got on in the first five minutes…which was a bit of a shock,” Randell told Knights TV.
“It was sad for Tyrone to come off injured, and for me to go on for that reason, but as a utility on the bench, that’s what you’re used for."
Randell is no stranger to jumping in at the deep end.
His first grade debut in Round 25 of last season was a somewhat unconventional one when he was pulled out of the previous NSW Cup match after 60 minutes when told he was making his first grade debut in an hour.
Since that baptism of fire, he will play his 10th match of the year this Saturday at Hunter Stadium.
“I’m very pleased how I’m going personally,” he admitted.
“It was a goal to be getting a few games here and there, but to be named each week for the major part of the season, I’m very happy about that.”
The talented Knights junior partnered Carlos Tuimavave last weekend, who himself was playing his maiden first grade match in the red and blue.
“I thought Carlos and I worked well together and had a good game,” he said.
“He was talking really well and directing the boys around the park, it was just what the team needed.”
The fairytale ending didn’t come for the Knights, but the 22-year-old says the way the team stuck together in adversity was encouraging.
“We didn’t give up and fought right to the death. There were just a few errors and defensive lapses in the game, which didn’t help,” Randell said.
“We gave it our best shot and that’s all we could really do.”
It’s that type of steely resolve that Randell, who is named back on the bench this weekend, assures the team will bring to Hunter Stadium against the 10th placed Canberra Raiders.
“The Canberra Raiders have been going well this year, but we’re desperate for a win before the bye to get our season going again,” he said.
“Hopefully we can get a good crowd there and the under 20s and reserve grade start the day well off for us.”
If you plan to attend Saturday's game, check out the Round 13 game day information.