Making his debut in 2018 is something Pasami Saulo will never forget.
It was a rapid rise to first grade for Saulo who started the 2018 season in the nib Newcastle Knights Jersey Flegg side.
After impressing in the early rounds of the season, he was promoted to the Knights ISP NSW squad.
By the end of the season, he was running out onto McDonald Jones Stadium, in front of 24,000 Knights fans on Old Boys Day.
But before that, it started in Round 22 against the Warriors in New Zealand.
Saulo had been called up to make his NRL debut.
“I was shaking, so many things were happening at once. I was so nervous,” Saulo told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
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“(Former Football Manager) Darren Mooney was like, ‘you’re good to go on now’ and I was like ‘okay, okay’.”
On the bench, he was sitting next to a player with 338 games of experience in Chris Heighington.
“I was sitting next to JJ Felise and Chris Heighington,” Saulo added.
“I was asking questions but he (Heighington) said, ‘it’s just another game of footy, just go out and do your thing’.”
He took that advice on board.
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As soon as he took to the field, the nerves dissolved.
Shortly after entering the field, he took his first run.
It was a moment he’ll never forget.
“I remember getting that ball and I was running at Adam Blair, so I ran straight at him,” Saulo explained.
“It wasn’t that bad, I think there was too much adrenaline going through me, I couldn’t feel anything.”
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“Right after that I felt good, this is it, it’s just another game of footy.”
Just 19 at the time, the speed of the game took Saulo by surprise.
He admits he tired himself out after five minutes of being on the field.
“It’s like 20s and reserve grade combined together, how do you keep up with it?,” Saulo said.
“I blew myself out in the first five minutes, it hit me hard, I remember when I was about to come off, I was deadest crawling to the line I was that buggered.
“I was doing jobs I wasn’t supposed to do.”
But by his third NRL game against St George Illawarra, he felt he had already developed as a player.
“I had calmed my nervous, my endurance especially was pretty good that game,” Saulo added.
“I felt fitter than any other game.”