With the noise surrounding Nathan Cleary’s desire to play under his father that has been circling for months, Kyle Flanagan ticked that box in Round 25.
A Sharks junior having risen through the Cronulla ranks, a debut under father Shane was inevitable. The only people shocked were those expecting him to get his chance earlier; the transition seamless and his temperament calm.
Flanagan has kicked serious goals in the last couple of years; he broke the points record in the NYC competition, captained the NSW Residents, captained the NSW Under-20s and steered the Newtown Jets to an Intrust Super Premiership Grand Final after being named halfback in the ISP Team of the Year. He was literally kicking goals, however, when the tap on the shoulder for his debut came.
“I went in to do goal-kicking on the Friday morning and Matt Moylan hurt his hamstring, so he called me in and said I was playing,” Flanagan says to NSWRL.com.au.
“I knew if I was going to debut then it was going to be under [Shane] so it was what it was, it was a bit of a shock.
“Finding out late in the week was probably a good thing, it was pretty amazing.”
Of all the 36 NSW-based players to debut this year, they would all tell you that the point of difference from the Intrust Super Premiership is the speed of the game.
Flanagan is no different and did not overplay his hand, letting his senior halves partner Chad Townsend take the reigns as he made his tackles and did his job in attack.
It’s a different story for the Jets and other representative teams where he owns the position, plays well beyond his years and calls the shots with success, which will no doubt translate to the Sharks in years to come.
“Everything is just on another level; everyone is running a bit harder and a bit faster,” Flanagan said.
“I noticed that after half-time that everyone was straight out of the gates after the break, you’ve always got to be moving.
“I never expected to play my best game on debut but I just want to play good for the club now, definitely next year I’m hoping to play consistent first grade footy.”
As one rising star played his first game, a seasoned veteran was farewelling the fans at the same ground.
The Round 25 game against the Knights was Luke Lewis’ last home game at Southern Cross Group Stadium, and the team were able to get the win in the emotional curtain-closing occasion.
“I was stoked to get the win for ‘Lewy’s’ last game,” Flanagan said.
“He’s one of the larrikins around training, he’s a good bloke, he’s really good for the young boys and the boys really wanted to get the win for him.”
“It was everything I thought it was going to be, stoked to get my debut and get the win…one from one.”