Rugby League Expert
Jon Wells: A debut to remember for Castleford Tigers teenager Jason Qareqare
Sky Sports rugby league pundit Wells reflects on a special night which saw 17-year-old Castleford winger Jason Qareqare announce himself in Super League with a spectacular debut try
Last Updated: 14/06/21 10:20pm
The debut: It's the most exciting, nerve-wracking, self-questioning, energising, overwhelming feeling in sport - and the most fleeting, because it happens only once.
Most ex-professionals won't remember large parts of their careers; they won't remember in detail plenty of minor things and some major things too.
I know this because I have spoken on the subject to many former sportsmen from many different sports and, particularly as the years pass, they will almost re-learn those moments through old footage and prompts from friends and family. There is, however, one universal exception: Everyone remembers their debut.
All debuts are memorable, regardless of the performance, regardless of the result. They are memorable because although for the majority of those watching that debut is just the start, appearance No 1, for the individual it is often the culmination and convergence of years of hard work, dedication, diligence, sacrifice and usually a bit of luck too.
So, the debut - until the Grand Final or cup final win, or the international cap or the gold medal or the Grand Slam, which are feats which evade 90 per cent of professional sportspeople - is a special and incredibly personal moment for the player and, in particular, their family and friends. Pride and happiness realised vicariously.
Now, imagine you are a 17-year-old aspiring league player, just out of the scholarship programme and have just 40 minutes of academy rugby under your belt. Add into the mix an 18-month hiatus due to the Covid-enforced shutdown of the junior programme in our country and you can start to create a picture here.
You're still at school, too, so you're dealing with all the pressures of the sixth form environment - homework, friendships, social and peer pressure to be doing other things.
There's the context for what I want you to do next, which is to stop reading for a minute and click play on the video below - I'll wait here for you. The debutant you're looking for is Jason Qareqare, but that will become pretty evident pretty quickly…
Well, that's not a bad way to announce yourself, is it? First minute, first touch, first try - and all under the glare of the Sky Sports cameras.
But it was the nature of the try which really surprised everyone watching - although it was mere confirmation for those few already in the know about what Jason was capable of, despite the tender years and inexperience.
It was a special try for a potentially really special player. I know he is incredibly proud of himself and so he should be. I know that his family are chuffed to bits. I also know that his schoolmates at Queen Ethelburga's Collegiate School in York are pretty pumped about it too. How? Check this out…
Finally, I also know, through my previous association with the Castleford Tigers, that he is highly thought of by all.
Perhaps the biggest compliment that I can pay him on that debut is that there would not have been one player or member of staff at the Tigers who would have been uncomfortable or nervous about him taking his place in the starting line-up.
Jason will never make his debut again. It's now up to him, his support network at school, at home and at the Tigers, to ensure he creates new memories as this hugely exciting fledgling career unfolds.