As an 11-year-old, Kaine Parkinson made a goal to line up for the Mustangs first grade side before he turned 18.
The Smithtown Tigers junior fulfilled his ambition on Saturday, when the 17-year-old made his debut, seven months before he will celebrate his 18th birthday.
Parkinson heard whispers at training he was in calculations for a call up, but it wasn't until he arrived at Verge St Oval on game day that he was told he would start at centre.
The utility back still played a full game for the Under-18.5s as he starred at fullback in a 48-8 victory over last year's premiers the Port Macquarie Sharks.
Parkinson crossed for three tries in a man of the match performance before his attention turned to the first grade contest.
Parkinson admitted he won't forget the feeling in the lead up to kick off anytime soon.
"I got the shakes running out on the field," he said. "It was special, it was pretty good."
Parkinson was solid and completed his role in the Mustangs' 44-26 victory over the Sharks, who were also last year's Group 3 premiers, and the St Paul's College student was glad to accomplish his goal.
"It was great to tick it off the list and go out there and have a run with such great players who have come back to the club," Parkinson told the Argus.
"I was pretty excited for the game."
Parkinson was a rock in defence but didn't have many opportunities with the ball-in-hand, as the Mustangs directed the majority of their attack down the right flank.
Parkinson did showcase his speed in the second half when he was first to the ball after a 50 metre kick down field, but unfortunately he received an unkind bounce and wasn't able to add his name to the scorer's sheet.
Despite his age, Parkinson has a wealth of experience as he has played plenty of representative footy and also spent three months in Sydney training with the Cronulla Sharks development program late last year, before he returned to Kempsey in January to maintain focus on school.
Parkinson claims representative honours and time with the Sharks contributed to a quick adjustment to the top grade.
"First grade was played at a faster pace, more structured and up against much bigger boys but honestly I thought it would be a lot quicker and harder," he said.
"Going down to Sydney and the new system of the North Coast Bulldogs definitely helped out a lot."
Parkinson remains modest but is hopeful he can earn more appearances this season.
"I will just keep playing as best I can and hopefully I can get a few more first grade games under my belt," Parkinson said.
"Then I will see what happens at the end of the year."
Mustangs coach Russell Lardner was full of praise for Parkinson, who stepped up at late notice.
"(Kaine was) excellent and will be knocking on the door for a first grade spot all year," Lardner said.
The Group 3 competition takes a break for the Easter long weekend.
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