IT IS a remarkable fact that, despite playing stand-off, Castleford Tigers’ Quentin Laulu-Togage’e did not touch the ball until the 25th minute of Friday’s epic game at Warrington Wolves.
With that in mind, the fact he went on to win man-of-the-match following a brilliant 34-30 victory, is all the more remarkable, too.
For the early part of a thrilling contest, it seemed his long-awaited Super League debut – Laulu-Togage’e is 33 and has played most of his football in the Championship – was passing him by.
However, when the dynamic Aucklander, who scored 183 tries in 218 games for Sheffield Eagles predominantly as a full-back, did finally get his hands on the ball, he had quite an impact.
In the second half he finished off a quality handling move, latching onto Jese Sene-Lefao’s offload to score, before cutting through himself to create the match-winning try for Oli Holmes.
Laulu-Togage’e told The Yorkshire Post: “I was getting a bit frustrated as we’ve got an override call ‘Ace’ and I was calling ‘Ace’ a lot.
“I see lazy forwards and I want the ball.
“I was calling ‘Ace’ a few times in the first half and they kept going open the other way.
“I had a word with our hooker a few times and said ‘you know if I call ace, I want the ball and think I can do something here.’
“Luckily they did start giving me it in the second half. I was constantly calling it then.
It just goes to show it’s never too late to get an opportunity,” he said, having signed until the end of 2018. I’ve been here eight years and trying to push for Super League for a while so to get it at 33 I did think it might never come.Castleford Tigers’ Quentin Laulu-Togage’e
“I started off a bit slow but got into it and overall it was amazing.
“I was buzzing; just to make my debut was a dream come true but to get the win against one of the form teams of the comp’ makes it that bit more special.”
Castleford, without Luke Gale and fellow halves Benny Roberts and James Ellis, were given little hope of victory beforehand.
Hooker Paul McShane and full-back Greg Eden had also pulled out late on but 19-year-old Calum Turner came in and shone at No 1 and their pack, led by the irrepressible Adam Milner and Grant Millington, was outstanding.
Laulu-Togage’e had been recruited from Halifax to try and help solve Castleford’s long-standing full-back problem.
It was a surprise, then, when one of the Championship’s best players over the last decade found himself finally getting his Super League chance – at stand-off.
He explained: “I was told on Tuesday. Jamie got injured in training and he (Daryl Powell) told me to come into his office.
“He then said I’m playing half. I started getting butterflies straight away – I haven’t played half since 2011 – so I was a bit nervous.
“But as the week went on I grew in confidence and knew I just had to play basic to get the job done. The forwards did an awesome job and Mikey (McMeeken) and Foz (Alex Foster) helped me loads in defence.
“They kept talking to me and I just pushed forward. That’s my game really; I look for boys who can offload. I know Jese can and I just followed him and caught it to get over.
“The young kid Calum did an awesome job at the back and I’m just happy to fill in where they need me. Hopefully, I’ll get picked on Sunday against Hull KR and get some consistency.”
The former Samoa international left Sheffield, where he had earned cult status since his arrival in 2011, for Toronto Wolfpack at the start of last season.
But he returned to Yorkshire with Halifax in April, continuing his prolific record with four tries in four games before Powell came calling.
Having won the Championship Grand Final with Sheffield in 2012 and 2013, ‘QLT’ admitted he thought his chance to shine at the elite level had gone.
“It just goes to show it’s never too late to get an opportunity,” he said, having signed until the end of 2018.
“I’ve been here eight years and trying to push for Super League for a while so to get it at 33 I did think it might never come.
“Now it has I’m just happy to be playing Super League, riding the rollercoaster. I’ve a contract until the end of the year and then whatever happens happens. I’ll just try play good footy and then hopefully that can look after itself.”