Iluka product Daine Laurie of the Panthers looks to offload the ball during the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Iluka product Daine Laurie of the Panthers looks to offload the ball during the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Laurie reflects on ‘dream’ NRL debut with Panthers

AFTER months waiting for it to be his turn, Iluka’s Daine Laurie earned his NRL debut for the Penrith Panthers against the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on Saturday night.

Coming in as a reserve, the Lower Clarence product was a late replacement for Malakai Watene-Zelezniak and despite playing just six minutes at fullback in the closing stages of the 28-12 win, he Laurie said it was a dream come true.

“A night that I’ll never forget! Always been a dream of mine to play NRL since I was a Iittle kid and last night I achieved that,” Laurie shared on his Instagram page on Sunday.

A former Lower Clarence Magpies and Grafton Ghosts star, 21-year-old Laurie gave praise to all that helped him achieve his dream.

“Can’t thank my parents and family and coaches and this club for everything, truly grateful,” he said.

Daine Laurie of the Panthers warms up before the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Daine Laurie of the Panthers warms up before the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Playing alongside 22-year-old superstar half Nathan Cleary, Laurie has long been an admirer of the ‘Prince’ of Penrith and relished the opportunity to join him in an NRL fixture.

“A fanboy in 2016 to playing alongside the Prince in 2020! Just a boy from little coastal town called Iluka 2466,” he said.

Daine Laurie of the Panthers and Nathan Cleary of the Panthers celebrate after winning the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Daine Laurie of the Panthers and Nathan Cleary of the Panthers celebrate after winning the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Laurie’s transition into the senior squad has been seamless, taking out the 2018 Jersey Flegg player of the season before signing a contract extension with the club last year.

His first big chance to impress came at the NRL 9s in Perth during the pre-season, where Laurie earnt the praise of his idol, Nathan Cleary.

A true talent on the field, the Iluka native has made his presence felt off it with a nomination for a TransGrid Indigenous Achievement Award, part of the 7NEWS Young Achiever Awards, last year.

Liam Martin of the Panthers and Daine Laurie of the Panthers celebrate after winning the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
Liam Martin of the Panthers and Daine Laurie of the Panthers celebrate after winning the round 13 NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Canberra Raiders at Panthers Stadium on August 08, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

The Panthers have emerged as the benchmark side in the 2020 NRL season and for the youngster to be picked by coach Ivan Cleary is a true testament to Laurie’s drive and determination.

Laurie’s debut may have been short and sweet, but this is just the beginning as the proud Iluka product looks to make a real name for himself on the big stage.