While the Newcastle Knights didn't register the win at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon, the enthusiasm and performance of the Club’s youngest team members was a significant positive.
Jake Mamo’s spectacular try assist had everyone talking after the agile fullback flew through the air in a successful effort to bat the ball back into play for Carlos Tuimavave to score.
“That’s the desperation that you want out of people. You don’t want people to give up,” captain Kurt Gidley said in the post match press conference.
“We knew we were going to get that from Jake. He does that sort of stuff at training.
“He’s always going to give 100 per cent and will be desperate in whatever he does. I was happy for him."
Stone was equally pleased with the Mamo’s inspiring show of enthusiasm.
“You know what you’re going to get with Jake. The effort was always going to be great,” he said.
“He’s courageous, fit and quick.
“He has a little bit to sort out as far as playing out the back and a few other things, but he puts himself around the ball and puts his body on the line.
“You have to be happy with a young fella like Jake.”
The 21-year-old played seven NRL matches last season and has since been working on his development in the Knights NSW Cup team as he waited for another shot on the big stage.
An opportunity he grasped with both hands on Sunday afternoon.
“He’s been close to playing for a couple of weeks now and has just missed out,” Stone said.
“It was a good reward for Jake’s persistence.
“He’s learning all the time and his willingness to learn is great.
“He’s an intelligent kid and knows he has plenty in front of him."
Meanwhile, 19-year-old Danny Levi made his NRL debut against the Sharks in the hooking position.
“I thought he was pretty solid,” Stone said.
“He handled himself and acquitted himself pretty well physically and with his decision making processes.
“Dan has been with us for a couple of years now and hopefully he’s going to be a bit of a future for us moving forward."
While the Knights’ depth has been tested in the last few weeks with a chunk of the team’s starting members sidelined through injury, the positive for Stone is it’s brought the opportunity for the Club’s emerging players to grow.
“It’s hard when you don’t have a lot of options, I suppose where you are with your playing depth because of our injury scenario,” he said.
“It’s a steep learning curve.
“It’s a tough environment to learn, it’s pretty relentless.”