A Shark is born
By TONY WHITE
FOR as long as he can remember, Luke Douglas has dreamed of playing first grade rugby league in the NRL competition.
The 19-year-old former Yamba resident and Lower Clarence Magpie will make his NRL debut tonight after being selected to play prop for the Cronulla Sharks against the Brisbane Broncos at Toyota Stadium, Cronulla.
"I'm stoked, it's every young footballer's dream," Douglas said. "This (football) is all I've ever wanted to do with my life. It's massive.
"Every night I go to bed I can hardly sleep."
Douglas's first grade debut is certain to be a baptism of fire against the giant, battle hardened Bronco pack and should fully test the teenager's skill and resolve.
The Sharks had a bye in last weekend's opening NRL round, while the Broncos will be out to atone for their first round thrashing at the hands of a red hot North Queensland outfit.
"I'm up against pretty much a test forward pack ? Webcke, Civoniceva and all the others," Douglas said.
"I'm nervous, but excited. I'll be giving it my best shot and try and grab my opportunity with both hands."
Proud parents, Chris and Trish Douglas, of Yamba, will be at the ground to watch their son take the field.
"The folks are coming down which is great," Luke said.
Douglas, who has played for the junior Kangaroos and NSW Under-19s in the curtain raiser to last year's State Of Origin at Lang Park, first went to Sydney to try his luck with St George.
"I was still at high school, but St George didn't really want me so I came back home and played a season with Lower Clarence," Douglas said.
"I went back down and played for the Sharks Under-18s, then Jersey Flegg in 2004.
"Last year I played half the season in Flegg and half in Premier League. My goal this year was to try and cement a place in Premier League.
"Now to be playing the first game of the season with the Sharks first grade, with and against guys who have been my heroes, is just unreal. I still can't believe it.
"Stuart (head coach Stuart Raper) rested me from Premier League last week and said my form at training had been ahead of other guys vying for the first grade prop spot.
"He said I'd been edging ahead of them, training well and deserved an opportunity.
"I'm really enjoying my football, training and there are some great guys at this club."