LIVING THE DREAM: Behind the scenes of Daine’s big game
GROWING up in Iluka, Daine Laurie loved his footy, but wasn’t always “big enough” to make the rep sides.
Still, with a self-proclaimed passion to win, and a YouTube video of his greatest plays for the Lower Clarence Magpies, he set himself on a path to the NRL.
That dream came true last week when he was picked to make his first grade debut for the Penrith Panthers, and the club have produced an emotional video showing his week in the lead-up.
The video, produced with the permission of coach Ivan Cleary and football staff from within the NRL bubble has drawn praise from the football community for being able to celebrate the young footballer’s first steps into a promising career.
Laurie speaks of his connection to his family — a dad and brother who played footy, and of the sacrifices his family made to help him make the move.
“My older brother, he’s big in my life — I don’t really talk him up that much but he has a real big impact on my life,” he said.
“I want to do him proud, and do mum an dad proud.”
Laurie said there had been tough times, where he was homesick and struggling with his move to the city, but that his family were always there to pick him up.
The video cuts to a Panthers team meeting, where coach Ivan Cleary is announcing the team for the week.
“I’ve never done this before,” Cleary said. “But we’ve got a debutante this week, and he doesn’t know it, and it’s Daine Laurie.”
Laurie, who is sitting next to his childhood idol and Penrith halfback Nathan Cleary is dumbstruck by the news, as his teammates lift the roof off the room with cheers and celebration.
We watch as he calls his parents to tell them the news, overwhelmed with emotion.
“There’s your birthday present dad,” he said over the phone.
“My dad he was crying, my mum was crying and couldn’t talk,” Laurie said on the video. “I was just overwhelmed, I’ll never forget it.”
Come game day, and in the sheds before the match Laurie watches messages from his family before his debut.
“You are made for this game, and it’s good that you’re nervous because it shows you care,” coach Cleary tells him as he presents him with his game jumper.
Laurie stands and speaks to his teammates. “This jersey means heaps to me, I can’t thank the coaching stuff for developing my game to where it is, and can’t wait to rip in with the boys.”
He couldn’t have picked a better game to make his debut. Laurie gets his opportunity with five minutes left in the match, leading 28-12.
Running off halfback Nathan Cleary, he is involved in a few plays, and threatens the line.
His teammates get around him, congratulating him on his debut, and Laurie said the experience was one worth the hard work.
View this post on Instagram
#596 A night that I’ll never forget! Always been a dream of mine to play nrl since i was a Iittle kid & lastnight I achieved that! Can’t thank my parents & family & coaches & this club for everything truly grateful! A fanboy in 2016 & to playing alongside the Prince in 2020! Just a boy from little coastal town called Iluka 2466! #happydayssss @penrithpanthers
“It’s awesome, I can’t describe how I feel,” he said.
“All my family came, and that’s what made it.
“Ever since I was a little kid this has been a dream of mine, and to make it all come true, it’s just awesome.”