Young Sam Wood has thanked his senior Huddersfield Giants teammates for helping make his Super League debut run so smoothly.
The 18-year-old centre looked comfortable on the big stage as Huddersfield were desperately unlucky to suffer a heartbreaking 18-13 home defeat to title favourites Wigan Warriors in front of the Sky TV cameras.
The Mirfield-based former Dewsbury Celtic junior did admit to feeling nervous ahead of kick-off.
But with the help of everyone around him, he felt things couldn’t have gone that much better.
“The build-up to the game and then the game itself was absolutely incredible,” said the former Spen Valley High School pupil, who is no relation to teammates Kyle Wood and Mikey Wood.
“I was a bit shocked when I was told on the Wednesday I’d be playing, but at the same time I was just so grateful to get this opportunity.
“As soon as word got out I’d be in the squad, my phone never stopped buzzing with people wishing me good luck.
“But I just tried to keep a lid on it, to be honest, and fully focused on the job ahead of me.
“I did feel confident I’d been alright, because all of the coaching staff told me the reason I was playing was because I was good enough and wouldn’t let anyone down. So, basically, I felt ready to play straight from the start.”
It was, however, the advice from the players around him which proved the icing on the cake.
“They’ve been brilliant with me from the moment I started training regularly with them just after Christmas,” added Wood, who doubles up as a part-time barman at the Flower Pot pub in Mirfield.
“They were made up for me when I was picked in the squad for the pre-season wins over Hull KR and Catalans, and they were even more made up for me when I got the nod to play against Wigan.
“They backed me 100% in the build-up to the game, they gave me all the support in the world just before kick-off, and they were brilliant with me during the game itself. I couldn’t have asked for better teammates.
“Obviously, I was looking towards what Leroy (Cudjoe) was doing as much as anyone, because he was playing in the same position as me, and his advice and support throughout last week was brilliant.
“And Joe (Wardle) has been just as good. He may be injured at the moment (around another month with a quad injury), but he’s been there for me every step of the way.
“You just can’t put a price on support like that.
“Having said all that, everyone in the squad has been unbelievable, to be fair.
“I’ feel very lucky and privileged to be part of this group.”
But does he think he’ll keep his spot for the Giants’ next game at home to Widnes on Sunday week?
“Who knows, but I’d love to have another crack at it so soon again,” he continued.
“Obviously, I’m taking nothing for granted.
“My big phrase post-match is making sure I don’t get carried away. All I’m thinking about right now is continuing to train hard and see where it takes me.
“But now I’ve had a taste of what it’s like to play in Super League, I know how much I want to do it again,”