AS DEBUTS go, Wakefield Trinity winger Lee Kershaw’s – in the epic 26-24 win over Leeds Rhinos yesterday – was a dream.
Kershaw, 19, was recalled from loan at Betfred League One club Oldham after Joe Arundel suffered a pectoral muscle injury in last Thursday’s defeat away to Castleford Tigers.
He scored injury-hit Wakefield’s first try, racing over from long range off an off-load by Mason Caton-Brown, carried the ball strongly out of defence and was named man of the match in one of Trinity’s most memorable Super League wins.
“I could not ask for much more – a win and a try,” Kershaw admitted.
“I have to say thanks to Mason for the try, if he had got away I think he would have scored.
“He is fast, but as soon as I got it I just carried on running.
“I was looking around, I saw someone on my inside, but I just kept going and got it down in the end.”
Kershaw’s powerful carries were even more impressive than the pace he displayed for his score.
Rhinos targeted the rookie with their kicking game, but he coped under the pressure and returned the ball with interest, proving difficult for Leeds’ defenders to pull down.
“That’s what they really use me for,” he said of his clearing runs.
“That is my strong point, they say. Obviously I have got other things to work on, like my defensive reads.
“That’s what I will look back at from this game and previous games and try and touch up on.”
Kershaw described the step up from League One as “massive”. He had been due to spend the whole season at Oldham, who have Aaron Jones-Bishop – brother of Wakefield’s Ben Jones-Bishop – on the other flank, but the deal included a 24-hour recall option.
And coach Chris Chester has said Kershaw will now get a run of games in Super League. Kershaw reflected: “It is a lot faster, the lads are a lot bigger. “I was walking out and thinking ‘I’m the smallest player on the pitch!’.
“It is another level, but I got lucky with a few breaks and Mason passing the ball.
“I did my best and it came out well for us.”
The derby atmosphere was unlike anything Kerhaw had experienced as a player. He recalled: “Before the game I walked out just to soak it in a bit and see what’s what.
“There were only a couple of thousand in and then when I came out for the warm-up there were a lot more.
“That got to me a bit, I was a bit nervous, but in the second half I got more comfortable with it and felt a bit better.”
Chester told the post-match press conference Kershaw had tears in his eyes following the game.
And the player conceded: “I am a bit like that, I was all right until I saw my mum and dad in the crowd.
“I have been waiting for that day for years so when I came I started blubbing.”
With Tom Johnstone ruled out for the rest of the campaign and Arundel also on the casualty list Kershaw has an opportunity to establish himself as a Super League player.
“We will see what happens,” he said.
“Obviously I am grateful for the first game and hopefully I’ll get another one, but I understand they have got lots of good players.
“There’s lots of younger people than me coming through the academy and doing well, people like Connor Bailey and Jack Croft.
“They will get a chance soon and they are just as good as me.”