IT has been a swift shift from terrace to pitch for Tyrone McCarthy.
Only a week after cheering Wolves to victory in the Challenge Cup semi final alongside family and friends, the 21-year-old back rower was thrown in at the deep end on Friday.
Hamstrung by a crippling injury list, Warrington chief Tony Smith turned to McCarthy to make his first-grade debut against Wigan, just four months after signing a full-time contract.
The call-up was even more surprising considering the lifelong Wolves fan had spent the previous six weeks watching from the sidelines following a knee cartilage operation.
But McCarthy’s performance was one of the major positives to be taken from the 36-16 defeat, suggesting he will not be spending much time on the terraces in years to come.
He said: “I was chuffed to finally get in and show Tony Smith what I can do. I thought I did all right, especially as I had just come back after six weeks out. I could’ve got a bit more involved in
attack but the pace is so quick compared to reserve grade.
“It was hard to get up to match pace but it was also hard to judge because I’m still not fully match fit.
“That game was easily 20 times faster than even the fastest reserve game but you are also working with better players around you so that helps to make it a bit easier.”
He added: “The call-up did come as a shock.
“I was in the crowd with everyone else cheering the lads on during the Challenge Cup semi final and I was loving it.
“It was kind of surreal to be on the pitch a week later and look at the terrace thinking ‘that was me last week’.”
McCarthy’s ascent to the professional ranks had been delayed while he completed his studies, earning a 2:1 in his sports and physical education degree from Edge Hill University earlier this year.
But now the Wolves academy product is fully focused on continuing his education on the pitch and sees Smith as the perfect teacher.
“You learn something new every day with Tony,” he said.
“He’s very disciplined and he wants you to be as honest as you can.
“The older players are great as well. They all came and had a word with me before Friday’s game and were keen to encourage me not to be quiet on the pitch.
“After the game, they came up to me and let me know I’d done a good job, which gave me a real confidence boost. There’s no cliques in the squad so it’s been easy to settle in.”
Now that he has made his breakthrough, McCarthy is not about to rest on his laurels.
Being a newcomer to the team, he knows his chance of making the cut for the Challenge Cup Final are slim but he is determined to do everything he can to be in contention.
If McCarthy gets another chance to impress in Friday’s Super League clash with Wakefield, expect another full-blooded display.
He said: “Tony has made it clear that everyone has a chance and that’s what makes it so good for the young lads coming through. They are all keen to prove themselves and it puts pressure on the
more established players to prove they are worth their place in the team.”