Daine Laurie will never forget the bus ride to Tamworth in the pre-season of 2021.
Just hours after it was announced that he would be joining Wests Tigers from Penrith, the promising fullback jumped on that bus for a pre-season camp — meeting his new teammates for the first time — a daunting experience for a reserved country kid.
Six months later, Laurie is a fan favourite and a shining light for the club after a stunning rookie season for Wests Tigers.
The Grafton Ghosts junior was handed the number one jersey for the opening round against Canberra — an audition for the rest of the campaign — and he impressed his coach that much that he retained the number one jersey for the rest of his season.
It was a breakout year for the 22-year-old as he played 19 games — scoring seven tries and setting up eight more, as well as recording nine line-breaks and 71 tackle busts and averaging 134.3 running metres a game.
Not only was he impressive in attack, but he also came up with a number of try-saving tackles throughout the season as he swept across the backfield.
However, his 2021 campaign was cut short when he suffered a break to his fibula in the Round 20 clash against the Warriors.
The good news, though, is he will be able to resume training when the club returns for its 2022 campaign in November.
Appearances — 19
Tries — 7
Total running metres — 2551 (avg. 134.3)
Kick return metres — 709
Line breaks — 9
Tackle breaks — 71
Try assists — 8
Tackles made — 100
NRL Fantasy points — 737 (avg. 38.8)
It was a special night when Laurie featured in his first Indigenous Round — and he capped it off with a nice try.
Wests Tigers left edge comes to life
WHAT WAS SAID
I’m Aboriginal — and I’m a proud one from the Bundjalung Tribe up on the north coast. I’m representing my whole family and all the Elders, who have led the way to help us to where we are today.Wests Tigers fullback Daine Laurie
I'm rapt for Daino, he had to do what was best for his career and that was going to the Tigers. He's been playing some great footy for them and has been one of their best, for sure.Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards
Laurie had a day out when Wests Tigers travelled to WIN Stadium in Wollongong to face St George Illawarra in Round 8.
The young fullback recorded 173 running metres (from a season-high 41 touches), eight tackle-breaks, two line-breaks and two try assists — as well as a mighty effort to get out of his in-goal area in a crucial stage of the game (see video below).
VB Hard Earned Effort of the Week: Round 8
Daine didn't love fronting the media at times throughout the season — giving his teammates plenty of reasons to laugh.
Daine had the opportunity of playing against his uncle, South Sydney five-eighth Cody Walker.
Laurie will wear the number one on his back in 2022, and although he was pleased with his first proper season in the NRL, he will look to improve his game when he returns next season.
“I want to be more on the ball and more vocal … I need to inject myself more into the game to take the pressure off Doueihi and ‘Brooksy’,” Laurie said.
“I’m looking to work on my combinations … I’ll let Brooksy run the show and I’ll chime in when needed.
“If we can keep working hard for each other, the results will come.”