"Is he talking to me?"
That was the initial reaction from Wolves junior Damon Gray when first team coach David Carney called upon him to enter the field at Wanderers Football Park to make his senior debut for the club he has played at since he was 11.
At the time, the Wolves were down 2-1 away to Western Sydney. Carney called upon the 18-year-old to change the game.
The Unanderra local spent just over half an hour on the pitch and by the end, it finished 2-2.
"I've been playing with the 18s up until that point and throughout the season I've been getting opportunities off the bench for the under 20s," Gray said.
"In the last two or three weeks I'd started training with the first team and I was told before the Wanderers game that I was on the bench. But I hadn't heard any word of coming onto the field because the week before that we played Macarthur and I was on the bench but didn't get any minutes.
"I was just told that I'd be on the bench and you need to be ready but not to be expecting to play."
The moment he was called over by Carney to come on for Jake Trew all happened in a blur. The youngster described the moment blow-by-blow.
"At first I was thinking, is he talking to me? It was almost a bit surreal because I've been playing there since I was 11," he said.
"So I've been playing at Wolves all that time so to finally make it all the way up and play for first grade was a really exciting experience. I had a couple of pretty good chances. One of them was a header down from 'Lachie' (Lachlan) Scott and then I was sort of lunging at it and a player slid across and blocked the shot."
Clearly impressing coach Carney and his staff, Gray is set to be named on the bench this weekend for the team's clash against high-flyers Rockdale.
Gray said whilst it was an obvious step-up from U-18s, he was learning every day being around seasoned professionals such as former A-League products Lachlan and Walter Scott.
"It's obviously a huge step up from training in the under 18s and playing in the under 18s comp," he added.
"It's really good playing with them as well. Obviously at training, everyone can be having a little bit of a laugh every now and then and it may not be as serious or competitive as a game. But being involved in the game with them you really see the talent and why they're at this level.
"The physicality, the speed, the technical ability, you can just really see it all with them when you're playing amongst them," Gray said.
This week the Wolves will face a stern test in the form of equal-first Rockdale.
A first-half blitz in Wollongong saw the Suns home 3-1 the last time the two teams faced-off.
Rockdale received a further boost to their title chances in the form of three new signings this week. Deigo Celis (APIA), Daniel Collins (Blacktown) and former A-League player Iain Ramsay will all join Paul Dee's squad for the remainder of the season.
The latter Ramsay is a former Philippines international and boasts A-League experience with Sydney FC, Adelaide United and Melbourne City.
It is expected that all three will feature in some way against the Wolves on Sunday. Kickoff is 3pm.
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