Wiradjuri man Tyrell Sloan has made his debut for the St George Illawarra Dragons at WIN Stadium over the weekend, making it a night he will never forget.

Before the game, the fullback’s No. 1 support and grandmother presented him with the No. 1 jersey. Sloan said his grandmother was the first person he called when he found out he was making his debut against the Raiders in Wollongong.

“I call my Nan ‘Ma’. She’s played both those roles, it’s just crazy what she’s done for me,” said Sloan.

“She is my rock. She raised me ever since I was two months old.”

Sloan’s journey has been tough growing up without his parents and he sees the chance of playing in the NRL as an opportunity to inspire other Indigenous kids like himself and to honour the woman who raised him.

“Honestly, I don’t know how she did it. Obviously now I get paid with footy and I still struggle a bit with the money and I get more than she did,” Sloan said.

“She had to fight [for custody] through DOCS [Department of Community Services, now Family and Community Services] because my parents were in and out of jail. [My parents] are not really in the picture. I just don’t have that connection with [my mum] that I’d like. Dad’s still in and out of jail.”

If the young debutant thought his night couldn’t get any better, he managed to score a try and the Dragons came out on top with a 22-20 win.

Although the match wasn’t perfect for Sloan, he showed some promising plays which may see him picked for next season’s squad.

By Teisha Cloos