In the sheds: Cory Denniss

Making an NRL debut was always part of young Cory Denniss’ plans.

The dream became a reality much sooner than he ever expected when the 18-year-old Newcastle Knight received the call up from coach Nathan Brown to play in place of injured winger Akuila Uate on Saturday. 

“It was crazy playing out in front of all my friends and family. It was a good experience. I’d always dreamt of it as a kid,” he told Knights TV following the match. 

“To fulfill it has been really good.

“Running out on the field, I got goose bumps, it’ something I’ve always dreamt of doing, and to go into golden point as well was pretty crazy."

It was a whirlwind week for the Lakes United junior from Pelican who went from training with the Under 20s side and working fulltime as a trainee telecommunications electrician, to stepping up to the elite level within the space of a week. 

And he did so with aplomb.

“It’s been a good week. I was told on Monday to see if I could get work off. I was stoked with a few days off work and a free lunch,” he joked.

“To get the call up was crazy.

“I was nervous and excited, it took a few days for it to sink in, but come game day, I was relaxed and just gave it my best shot.” 

The rookie exceeded expectations when he scored the Knights' first try just moments before half time before topping off his debut experience by crossing again in the 71st minute. 

“I was just stoked to run out on the field to score a couple of tries, was unbelievable," he said. 

“I scored and looked up and everyone was running over and jumping on me. It was crazy.”

While admittedly inexperienced with the physicality of NRL football, Denniss held his own against a formidable Raiders side.

“It was definitely a lot more physical than 20s. I’ve only played a few 20s games but there was a big difference,” he said. 

It was the advice of the side’s senior players in the end that best prepared the underling for the step up.

“A lot of the advice was to be confident and to back myself and to just go out there because I have nothing to lose and to give it my best shot,” he said. 

Denniss shared the life-changing experience with a strong contingent of supporters who attended the game with a banner reading ‘Cory the Menace’ to show support for the young debutant. 

“All my mates had made a big banner, it was pretty funny," he said.

“They all got down to come and watch including all my family, my cousins and grandparents, they were all here to support.”

Denniss become player #270 for the Newcastle Knights on Saturday.