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Cronulla rookie Sam Stonestreet has revealed the inspiration behind his stunning NRL debut on Sunday afternoon.

Stonestreet grew up in the Shire supporting the Sharks and scored a try in front of his friends and family as he achieved his childhood dream in his side's 42-6 win over the Cowboys. 

A promising winger as a child, the 21-year-old quickly fell in love with Luke Covell. The Cronulla great sent Stonestreet a video message during the week that provided the inspiration for a memorable debut.

"He's a winger like myself," Stonestreet told "He used to goal kick, that's where the magic fingers came from, Luke Covell kicking goals. I've always liked him so it was cool to receive that message. 

"He wished me luck, it was a big moment so I'm still in shock but it was cool to get his message."

Sharks rookie Sam Stonestreet is mobbed by his friends and family following Sunday's NRL debut.
Sharks rookie Sam Stonestreet is mobbed by his friends and family following Sunday's NRL debut. ©NRL Photos

Stonestreet played his junior footy for Shire nursery De La Salle, however he didn't have it his own way as he progressed through the pathway. 

The imposing winger was dropped from the Sharks Harold Matthews team and missed out on a place in the club's junior academy.

Rather than consider walking away from the sport, the setbacks only made Stonestreet more determined to follow in the footsteps of his grandfather and play first grade.

Sharks v Cowboys – Round 7, 2024

The winger has impressed since earning promotion to the Sharks top squad and scored 13 tries in 16 games in NSW Cup last year. 

The Cronulla players mobbed the youngster when he scored his first try in the top-flight on Sunday and captain Cameron McInnes said it's a sign of the respect he holds within the squad.

"He's such a good kid," McInnes said. "The reaction of the boys when coach told everyone he's playing, everyone was so happy for him and it was really organic. 

"For him to play the way he did, that try was a great finish, but he was running hard, ripping in and just going after it. He's earned that and I was really pleased for him."

Stonestreet enjoyed the victory on Sunday, however he has had to quickly return to reality with a university assignment due on Monday night. 

The youngster is currently studying a bachelor of commerce at the University of NSW and attends classes every Monday. 

On the field, he hopes he's done enough to retain his spot in the team with Sione Katoa returning from suspension for this week's clash with the Raiders in Canberra.

Stonestreet all confidence on debut

Whether he stays in the team or not, Stonestreet has created new memories that will live with him forever. 

"When I went in in that corner, it was a dream come true," he said. "I grew up watching the Sharks my whole life on the family hill, so to get the win [is incredible]. 

"Even if it is just one game, this team is unbelievable. I'll do anything for this team."

Acknowledgement of Country

Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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