Andrew Davey had every reason to smile after scoring his first NRL try.
And as he did, his team-mates reacted with plenty of hugs and back slaps.
For 30-year-old Davey had just crossed for Manly’s first try in their 30-6 win over the Newcastle Knights in heavy conditions at McDonald Jones Stadium on Thursday night.
However, this was more than just about opening the scoring in the round five premiership match.
It was a reward for perseverance.
Remember, this a hardened man from Mackay who gave up his own successful building business in Queensland to follow his dream of playing in the NRL. He wanted to leave no stone unturned. No regrets.
That dream started at the age of 28 in Parramatta in 2020 after being recruited from the Intrust Super Cup.
Ten games later for the Eels, Davey saw more opportunities ahead at Manly.
But, rugby league can be a cruel game at times. Just two games in for the Sea Eagles and in his first home game at 4 Pines Park, Davey suffered a season ending knee injury.
Shattered at the time, the man known as 'AD' focused on his rehabilitation. Working tirelessly to ensure he return in 2022.
The Knights match was his fourth game back this season from his knee reconstruction and one that saw his name enter the record books as an NRL try scorer after running on to a ball from Dylan Walker.
So, how he did he react to his first NRL try, a moment every aspiring footballer dreams about?
“I actually laughed,’’ Davey said.
“Especially after Newcastle had their first try disallowed.
“It was one of those ones where ‘Walkz’ being an old half, I knew he would hit me if I was running hard. And when he hit me, I knew I was going over.
“I kept it very quiet from everyone that it was my first one.
“It’s nice…it’s a bit of relief. I like to think more comes from it now.”
And as for keeping it quiet, Davey certainly did that in the dressing room. It’s just the humble man he is.
That was until the ever energetic Walker heard it was his first try!
“There’s plenty more for you mate, don’t worry,’’ Walker shouted as Davey sat enjoying a well deserved beer with nearby team-mates.
Walker, a former Rabbitohs player, then delivered this pearler. It was as crisp and sharp as that ball to Davey.
‘’Just remember who threw the final pass to Nathan Merritt when he broke the all-time tryscoring record for South Sydney. It’s not my first rodeo.”
Walker is like that Energizer Bunny from the 90s TV commercial…he just ‘keeps going and going’,
But even batteries have to end, and when Walker stopped, his laughter turned to seriousness as he explained why he admires Davey.
“Just his work ethic, his resilience. What he went through with his ACL last year….considering his age, it probably would have sent a few players into retirement,’’ Walker said.
“He just worked so hard at his recovery. And when he got his chance to get back into the side, he has taken it. He is going very well.
“I probably wouldn’t trade him for anyone at the moment. We’ve got young ‘Schuey’ coming back. It’s good competition to have in our locker room where people have to fight for spots.”
Even the moment was not lost on Coach Des Hasler, who knew what that try meant to Davey.
“Andrew has worked really hard to come back from that ACL injury and to get into the team,’’ Hasler said.
“He has shown great professionalism and it was good to see him get across that tryline.”
As for Davey himself, he is now setting himself on a new fun challenge…trying to finish in front of skillful back-rower Haumole Olakau’atu on the tryscoring list this season.
“Last week (in Mudgee), Haumole gave me a bit of stick for being 1-0 up,’’ Davey laughed.
“We were 1-all for a little bit there but then ‘Shmole’ scored another one against the Knights, so I’m going to have to back it up next week.
“It’s a bit of fun between us. I might make it serious and put some money on it. And we will make it season long”.
Judging by the odds Davey has had to beat, you wouldn’t put it past him to succeed either.