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The Gulgong Kid: The injury that gifted Jackson his unexpected NRL debut

“I done the full warm-up. I was ready to sit on the bench and watch the game.”

In 2012 Josh Jackson had been named by coach Des Hasler on an extended bench for the Bulldogs round 16 clash with the Melbourne Storm in Mackay.

Five minutes before kick-off, the dream came true for the Gulgong Terrier when an unexpected injury to Greg Eastwood allowed Jackson to make his NRL debut.

I had played reserve grade most weeks up until that point (round 16 v Melbourne Storm) and every second or third week you would be 18th man for the team.

Josh Jackson played 54 games for the club's U20s scoring 16 tries.
Josh Jackson played 54 games for the club's U20s scoring 16 tries.

I went to Mackay as an 18th man and you prepare for games like you were playing. You try and be professional that way, but you never think you’re playing.

I done the full warm-up. I was ready to sit on the bench and watch the game.

Then about two minutes before the two-minute bell went, Greg Eastwood pulls out with a calf injury and I got my opportunity that way.

I didn’t really have too much time to think about it and it was probably the best way to prepare for your first game.

In the Sheds Round 16

We were playing against the Storm who at that point I think were coming first on the table, so it was a baptism of fire.

I thought at that point I would sit on the bench for 60 minutes and I might get a run. I think it was 15 to 20 minutes into the game and Des puts me on.

It was a great game to be a part of and it was a great win. I have got great memories of it because of the win we had up there in Mackay and Benny Barba turned it on that day.

It was a very memorable one.

Bulldogs v Storm Rd16 (highlights)

I rang my family after it, and I don’t even think they were watching the game. They had just got a call from someone and they had to race home and watch it.

Greg Eastwood comes up to me after the game and taps me on the shoulder and says you’re going to have to give me half of your match payment.

2019 Clubman of the Year: Josh Jackson