Friday’s clash against the Penrith Panthers will be a very special occasion for UK import Joe Wardle.
The Englishman, who arrived in Australia late in the pre-season, will make his NRL debut for the nib Newcastle Knights.
“I’m buzzing, I got the call off (Nathan) Browny and he said I would be coming off the bench,” an elated Wardle told Knights TV.
“Finally getting to make my debut, and so soon after arriving, which is probably a dream start for me.
“I am looking forward to getting out there with the boys and hopefully we can get back to winning ways and get a good performance in.”
Of course, with he heard the news, came a welcoming gesture from his teammates.
“I had to do the ritual song and dance which was quite fun but all the boys came over and congratulated me which is nice,” laughed Wardle.
“It’s nice to have the backing of the boys and the coach so I’m looking forward to it.”
The 25-year-old, who spent the last five years playing in the English Super League with the Huddersfield Giants, will take on the role of second row for the Knights.
Wardle admits he’s harbouring a few nerves going into the match but can’t wait to get out there.
“There always is going to a new club, you want to impress and go well,” Wardle explained.
“I’ve just got my job to do and if I’m doing mine and the team is doing theirs, hopefully we should have a good performance against the Panthers.”
The Knights forward will have the support of family coming to watch his debut and abroad in England.
“I’ve got my wife and two kids, they are coming down to watch and the Club has put them up as well which is really nice,” said Wardle.
“Over in England, Mum and Dad will be able to watch it, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they say and hopefully I go well.”
Wardle acknowledges the change will be a big step up from the Reserve Grade, where he has played the last two weeks, but he’s eager for the challenge.
“I’ve watched quite a bit of NRL back home so I know a little bit about the Panthers,” added Wardle.
“I’ve spoke to a lot of the boys’; they’ve tipped me on a few things but to be honest I’m going to go out there expecting everything.
“It is very new to me so I’m just going to try and have a dig, knuckle down and do my part for the team.
“Hopefully I can have a dream debut and who knows I might even go over for a try, fingers crossed, we’ll see what happens.”