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The five greatest NRL debuts of the modern era

The five greatest NRL debuts of the modern era

With the debut of the league's newest team just around the corner, we look at some of the best individual debuts of the modern-era.

The Dolphins are set to make their NRL debut this weekend as the league’s newest team.

It’s been a rare sight over the past 20 years to see a new team join the competition, with the Gold Coast Titans the last to debut in the league back in 2007.

A lot has been said about the introduction of the team from Redcliffe, from the appointment of Wayne Bennett to their lacklustre recruitment.

But all the talk will be for naught come kick-off this Sunday against the Roosters.

With the debut just around the corner, we thought we’d celebrate the NRL’s newest arrival with a look at some of the best individual debuts in the league’s history.

Billy Slater - Melbourne Storm

It was almost a debut to forget for a 19-year-old Billy Slater in round 1 of the 2003 NRL season.

Named at centre but playing out on the wing, you would’ve forgiven the Melbourne Strom debutant for wanting the ground of Shark Park to open up and swallow him.

The Storm were down 22-0 to the Sharks in the first half, before the Melbourne side stirred on a resounding comeback, with Slater an instrumental force.

It’s a try that will go down in history from Slater, a 60-metre dash where he stepped half the Cronulla players before finding his way over the try line to kick-start the comeback.

Melbourne eventually ran out 36-32 winners in a ridiculous fight back to victory, with the dummy half’s try grabbing the headlines.

It was also the legendary Craig Bellamy’s first game in charge.

Sonny Bill Williams - Canterbury Bulldogs

It didn’t take long for Sonny to show exactly what sort of player he was.

In the side for the Bulldogs against the Eels in round 1 of the 2004 season, he proved that he had power, speed, and slick hands as Parramatta struggled to contain him.

He was just 18-years-old at the time, but he carved up the Eels from right centre in a display that saw him score one try and set up another.

He only started for the Canterbury side one more time that season, but it’s safe to say he stamped his authority on the NRL in years to come.

Luke Brooks - Wests Tigers

Put into the halves for round 23 of the 2013 season against the Dragons at the Sydney Cricket Ground, you’d hazard a guess that Luke Brooks may have been feeling a few nerves.

But he certainly didn’t show it as the 19-year-old put in one of the best NRL debuts of all time with a man-of-the-match performance against St George.

Forcing several repeat sets, setting up a try with a no-look pass, providing the goods with his kicking game, and his very own try in the 62nd minute.

It was a complete performance for the now club legend.

Amos Roberts - St George Illawarra Dragons


A personal haul of 22 points in a single match is a mammoth feat on its own.

To do it on your debut game in the NRL is another achievement all on its own.

Scoring nine goals and one try in round 14 of the 2000 season against the New Zealand Warriors, ‘Famous Amos’, had perhaps the most impressive debut of all time.

I mean, when your first game still holds the accolade of highest points-haul for the Dragons, I think you’ve done something right.

Amos would go on to star for the likes of Penrith and Roosters and was an avid try scorer throughout his career.

Andrew Johns - Newcastle Knights

The career for the eighth Immortal of the rugby league game in Australia started off just as you’d expect an Immortal career should.

His debut in 1994 saw him partnered alongside brother Matthew in the halves - the start of a beautiful partnership for the Knights.

The 19-year-old Andrew scored 23 points in a man-of-the-match performance, helping himself to two tries, seven goals and a field goal against South Sydney.

The Newcastle side ran out 43-14 winners and a star was born.

Without doubt the best debut in NRL history.

Featured Image Credit: NRL/Supplied.

Topics: NRL, Rugby League, Australia