LAURIE POUNCES: Iluka's favourite son ready for grand final
RUGBY LEAGUE: Down by two points with a minute left on the clock, with a dream chance at a Jersey Flegg grand final berth on the line, Penrith Panthers turned to the man they trust most, Daine Laurie.
The Iluka flier was on the outside of his opposition within two paces, and had sent his winger Thomas Lofts across to score in the corner.
He got smashed in a tackle in the process, but lying on the field after the play Laurie knew he had sealed the win over minor premiers Newcastle.
"I knew he had scored, I trusted him,” Laurie said. "I was just in shock for a minute. I couldn't believe what we had just done.”
It was Laurie's second try assist for the game, and coupled with his own four-pointer only minutes earlier, earned Laurie the player of the match award.
It's not the first he has picked up this Jersey Flegg season, with the Panthers fullback sitting third on the try-scorers list this season as well.
But it's something he doesn't do alone according to Laurie.
"I am up there, I know I have scored a few tries, but that's only because the boys are going forward in front of me,” he said.
"I just get to come in off the back of the hard work and look pretty. People only watch the highlights and see the big plays, but that's not what gets you the win.”
It is a team-based mentality that Laurie has adopted from Panthers coach Ben Harden, who has spent the past two seasons with the Lower Clarence Magpies junior.
"He has been awesome for me, he has really developed my game since I got down here for SG Ball,” Laurie said.
"He just told me to back myself. There is always players that are better than you, and I guess I haven't been backing my own ability, but he has helped changed that.”
Laurie has excelled since finishing his HSC studies at Patrician Brothers Blacktown last year, and now works as a teacher's aide with disadvantaged children in Western Sydney.
Where many kids before him have packed it in and headed back home to the bush, Laurie has stuck strong.
But that's not to say he has had days when it was tough, but having a loving family who hit the highway every fortnight to see him makes it easier.
"The days at training can be long and hard, and there are times when I think about packing up and coming home,” he said."But then I just think of my dream to play NRL and how much I want it. This is my home now and I have made it that way.
"Mum and Dad come down as much as they can, and it just feels like before. Even playing in the big stadiums, you can hear Mum yelling over everyone else. It's like she's got a megaphone.”
She will be yelling loud and proud once again this weekend, with the Panthers only 80 minutes away from glory against Cronulla Sharks rising juniors.
"I am definitely feeling the nerves, but I think I will just try to build off that and fire up for the game,” Laurie said.