It wouldn't have been difficult to script Michael Molo's NRL debut.
His mother presenting his jersey in an emotional pre-game ceremony. A St George Illawarra Dragons win. A crucial try for the big prop forward. Sharing the field with older brother Francis.
They're all the things Hollywood writers would have thrown into the mix when plotting a fairytale ending.
Rarely, however, does reality match the script.
Molo's debut was one of the few exceptions.
The 25-year-old was superb in his first NRL match, scoring a try and celebrating a Dragons win over the Warriors alongside his older brother.
Playing in front of his friends and family, it's a match that went exactly to plan for Michael.
"It's a dream come true," Molo said. "Just to get my debut, let alone being on the field with my brother. Playing a couple of minutes with him on the field, it felt surreal.
"The try just tops it off. I'm happy to get the win and to get a try and to contribute to the win, I'm just soaking it all in."
Molo admits he considered abandoning his NRL dream just a few years ago.
Playing park footy in Queensland, the forward feared his opportunity would not eventuate.
Instead of throwing in the towel, however, he decided to knuckle down and do everything he could to reach the top flight.
"I was playing local footy but I always had belief in myself that I could potentially make the NRL," he said. "I just had to knuckle down, a lot of hard work and sacrifices.
"I decided to put in the hard yards at training, do a lot of extras. I'm happy it finally paid off and I'm fortunate to have my older brother there with me."
Molo developed into one of the top forwards in the Queensland Cup last year, turning in a number of impressive performances for Norths and helping lead the side to a premiership.
The hard work did not go unnoticed, the Dragons offering a train-and-trial contract in the off-season.
It was a chance to follow Francis to Wollongong, but it wasn't an easy decision for Michael to make.
Ultimately, however, at the urgings of those closest to him, he packed his bags and ventured south, moving in with his brother.
The rest, as they say in the classics, is history.
"I had a lot of thoughts about moving," Molo said. "I was lucky to have a good support group, my family, girlfriend and friends, they all encouraged me to move.
"I hesitated moving away from Brisbane, it was tough being away from my girlfriend. I'm lucky I had my brother down here and he's made it a lot easier."
St George Illawarra coach Anthony Griffin was thrilled with Molo's performance.
The efforts produced in reserve grade were translated across to the NRL, the forward earning 47 minutes on the field.
"I thought he was excellent," Griffin said. "We left him out there for longer than we planned to and that was a credit to him, the way he played.
"It was just really special to see two brothers play together as well, and two brothers we brought to the club. For Michael, for his first game to score and to be involved in a win like that was great.
"His energy, I think, probably lifted our guys a bit when he came on, the fact he was playing his debut. The boys think a lot of him, that probably helped as well."
Despite making his NRL debut on Saturday, Molo remains on a train-and-trial contract.
His next order of business is a new deal, something the forward's agent is currently working on.
As contract discussions play out in the background, Molo is determined to ensure Saturday was not his only appearance in the top flight.
The goal is to lock down a place in St George Illawarra's NRL team.
"My goal now is to play consistent footy in the NRL, keep my spot every week," Molo said.
"I want to stay consistent, keep improving each game and hopefully we get more wins.
"I just want to keep doing my job for the team, stay consistent and keep improving."
Sports reporter at the Canberra Times
Sports reporter at the Canberra Times
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