Northern Pride debutant Justin Castellaro prepared for tough initiation
RELAX, take a deep breath and, most of all, enjoy it.
They are the words of advice teammates have given winger Justin Castellaro ahead of his Northern Pride debut against the Sunshine Coast Sea Eagles in Kawana today.
The 22-year-old was called up after Kalifa Faifai Loa was named in the Cowboys side for Monday night’s NRL clash against the Wests Tigers in Townsville.
It was sweet relief for Castellaro, who has been biding his time waiting for an opportunity to play in the Intrust Super Cup. It has been a frustrating experience, but Castellaro knew he would eventually get a chance if he remained patient.
"I thought if I kept playing well and kept my finger on the pulse I’d get a start one day," Castellaro said.
"It was more about not letting your head drop and not losing your confidence while you were waiting."
Castellaro arrived at the Pride this season with fellow Herbert River recruits Mitchell Seri (halfback) and Scott Gibson (winger), who will both feature against the Sea Eagles.
The qualified plumber has menaced opposition defences playing for Brothers in the Cairns District Rugby League and wants to do the same for the Pride. But he is not expecting an easy initiation.
"I’m expecting it to be a lot faster than a normal club game. I reckon the hits will be harder and a lot more
brutal," Castellaro said.
"But I like that side of it. I like to rip in when I get a chance."
Pride coach David Maiden hopes all his players do the same against the Sea Eagles considering their season depends on it.
Sitting seventh on the ladder, the Pride have to win to keep their top-five hopes alive. Castellaro said the Pride playing group were well aware of the equation.
"You can feel the intensity lift in our training runs," he said.
"It’s do or die for us now every week. We can’t afford to lose.
"If we do, it’s pretty much over for us."
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Debutant: New winger Justin Castellaro goes through an exercise drill during Pride training at Barlow Park yesterday. Picture: STEWART McLEAN