Even fewer manage to score a try with their first touch of the ball, but Wakefield Trinity’s teenage centre Jack Croft is still “buzzing” after achieving both those things.
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The 48-10 defeat at St Helens in the Coral Challenge Cup last weekend was tough for Trinity to take, but 19-year-old Croft’s headline-grabbing first appearance was some consolation.
Croft was drafted in after Mason Caton-Brown joined Trinity’s lengthy injury list and they were also without recent loan signing Junior Sa’u who was cup-tied by playing for Salford Red Devils in the previous round.
The youngster looked at home against the European game’s current top team and was immediately tipped for a big future at the club.
He reflected: “It was good to get my debut, it was unreal and I loved every minute of it.”
Croft added: “The try was a great moment, I was buzzing after it.
“That helped me throughout the game. If your first involvement’s a positive one it makes the rest of it easier.
“It settled the nerves and it was great to get over.
“Leading up to it and getting on the coach I was nervous, but after that first touch all the nerves went.
“You trust everyone around you so you know you’re going to be all right.”
Scoring a try was the ideal start for Croft, but coach Chris Chester was impressed with his all-round effort.
The player himself said: “I thought I went all right.
“Obviously there’s some things to fix up, playing for the first time.
“It was a bit dodgy in some areas, but I thought I held my own in parts.”
Croft trained full-time last week, but is still a student at Wakefield College.
“I have nearly finished there so then I’ll go back full-time,” he said.
“It’s a balance I have to get right.
“I signed a four-year deal last year so I am here for a while and I am loving every minute of it.
“It’s a great environment to be in. There’s loads of experienced players around me and they looked after me.
“I had Ben Jones-Bishop on my wing and Milky [Jacob Miller] inside me and everyone helped me out.”
Sa’u will be available for Friday’s visit of Leeds Rhinos and long-term casualties Joe Arundel and Bill Tupou are expected to be back in contention within the next two weeks. That will limit Croft’s first-team opportunities, but he insisted: “All you can do is put your hat into the ring and hope to get selected.
“I think I’ve done a bit, but it’s up to Chezzy and he will make the right decision. He always does.”
The loss at Saints was Trinity’s third in succession following Betfred Super League defeats by London Broncos and Catalans Dragons, but Croft felt Wakefield played better than the 38-point margin suggests.
“It is always a tough place to go,” Croft said.
“I have gone with the academy and we haven’t got a result and obviously they are league leaders for a reason.
“They are an exceptional team, but I don’t think the scoreline reflected the game.
“I think we were in it for most of the game.”