GRASSCROFT’S Nathan Roebuck made a dream try-scoring Super League debut for Warrington Wolves at the age of 20.
“It was a great week,” explained the former Saddleworth Rangers player who scored Wolves’ opening try in a 20-18 loss to Salford Red Devils and days later celebrated a landmark birthday.
Nathan, who was playing wing, was modest about scoring the opening try of the game which helped The Wire build an 18-0 lead at the AJ Bell Stadium.
“It was all down to the work of my half back Riley Dean. All I had to do was go over the line,” he said.
Nathan, a former pupil at Friezland Primary and Saddleworth School, described his emotion was one of “nervous excitement”.
“You have got to be excited as this is what I had been working towards and done all the training for years towards,” he said.
As the game against Salford was four days before the two teams met again in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup, coach Steve Price made wholesale changes.
Nathan was one of four debutants while other players had featured only a handful of times.
He said: “The coach gave us more notice than normal, probably about one week.
“It enabled the younger lads to get their heads around they were playing.”
Nathan added it was challenging as most of the young players had not played a competitive game since lockdown in March.
And of the game, he said: “It was a shame we lost, but it was a great experience.
“I noticed the pace of the game was a lot quicker than academy games as was the greater physicality.
“It would have been great to have fans watching but, not having them there, probably took the pressure off the younger lads.
“In some ways it was like a training game and I didn’t notice the television cameras.”
Nathan, who not long ago was ruled out for almost nine months following surgery to his hamstring, added that Covid-19 helped provide the opportunity to play with a congested fixture list.
He continued: “A lot of other clubs like Leeds, Wigan and St Helens have been given academy players a chance.
“It is different to football which is based on running. In rugby, it takes time to get your body back to 100 per cent for the next match.”
Nathan, who at 6ft 5in in Wolves’ tallest player and weighs 94 kilos, was spotted by Wolves playing open age rugby for Rangers aged 18.
And he says he received many congratulatory from former Rangers’ team-mates he keeps in contact with.
It was a remarkable night for Oldham as there were five players from the town involved in the Warrington versus Salford game.
Nathan, former Waterhead Warriors’ player Josh Thewlis and ex-Oldham St Annes player Ellis Robson started for Wolves while Eribe Doro, another one-time Rangers’ player was an interchange.
And in the Salford side was former Rangers’ player James Greenwood.
Price praised the local continent in his side: “I’m super proud of the boys’ effort. We wanted them to go out and represent that Warrington jersey with pride and they certainly did that.
“It was a great moment for Nathan. He’s a young bloke and came through our academy. He hadn’t played a game all year and I thought he was great.
“Josh Thewlis was another one who had a really solid game. It was a huge night for Saddleworth.
All those guys came through and played together and it’s a big step up for them. They were in a fight right up until the death.”