Back in the big time
By STEVE SPINKS
AS the Newcastle Knights slipped to a 32-16 loss to the Wests Tigers in the National Rugby League you could have forgiven debutant winger Milton Thaiday for letting his mind wander after the match.
After all, the team he left to pursue a professional career in the NRL only a month ago, the Ballina Seagulls, were romping it in against Kyogle 54-26 at Kyogle.
It was worlds apart.
Thaiday was playing in front of a 15,000 strong Newcastle crowd, while his team-mates slogged it out in front of 300 people at Kyogle.
After the match, the Knights were put through a vigorous recovery session.
Ballina players resorted to a couple of squashes to soothe their aches and pains.
The Knights were paid.
The Seagulls paid to play.
But despite the loss, Thaiday had plenty to be happy about after his NRL first- grade debut.
The winger, and former NSW Waratah, scored a try and generally impressed with his electrifying pace and strength in the tackle.
He was brought into the side as a late replacement for winger Trent Salkeld and his form was such that he should be retained for this weekend's match against the Dragons.
While Thaiday was at Ballina for only three games at the start of the season, he was a lucky charm.
The Seagulls dominated all their games with the pocket dynamo prominent in all their victories.
News of Thaiday's debut filtered through to the Ballina supporters as the Seagulls led Kyogle 14-6 in the first half.
'Milton scored Newcastle's first try' was the call among a small but happy Seagulls crowd.
As if on cue, Ballina prop Grant Erickson plunged over for a try to put the Sea-gulls further in front.
Thaiday, it seems, is still a lucky charm for Ballina.