The blood, sweat and tears behind Trent Loiero’s NRL debut
Trent Loiero's father Gino was unable to hold back the tears as he watched his son make his NRL debut and believes the best is yet to come for the Melbourne Storm rookie.
The Kawana Dolphins junior and Mountain Creek State High School graduate last week became Stormer number 212 in the Round 4 match against the Brisbane Broncos.
An entourage of about 13 people, including his parents Gino and Leanne, siblings Jake and Brooke and other family and friends were invited down from the Coast to Melbourne to celebrate his milestone.
Among them were some of Trent's under-6s Dolphins teammates and lifelong friends in Jack Atkin, Mason Hogarth, Kaleb Sutton, Sam Reid and Dan Majonovic.
As he watched his son warm up at Aami Park and then take the field, Gino unashamedly let the tears fall, all while his phone "blew up" with messages of congratulations.
"Everyone could see them (the tears), I think I was crying before he warmed up," Gino said.
"It's every kid's dream to play in the NRL.
"So to watch the first chapter of his dream and watch him go out and do his job.
"He's made himself proud, his club proud, he's made the Sunshine Coast proud and his family."
Trent, who turned 20 earlier this year, moved to Melbourne three years ago as a teenager.
He was born and raised on the Coast and had played for Kawana his entire career to date.
But from the get go, the Storm became his family away from home.
"As a parent, to see him move away from home at 18, it's hard to live away from home," Gino said.
"But he's extremely happy down there. All the guys have taken him under his wing, the Nikko (Nicho Hynes) the Cheese (Brandon Smith), all the guys, they get along great, it's like a family away from home."
Former Storm utility Ryan Hinchcliffe presented Trent with his debut jersey and recalled memories of when the rookie first turned up at the Melbourne HQ.
"He was this gangly, long limbed, resembled a baby giraffe, I remember at training he was getting bashed pillar to post," Hinchcliffe said to a chorus of laughs.
"But a few things stood out, how tough and aggressive he was and never took a backward step. We really appreciated those strong attributes at the Storm.
"We know you've worked extremely hard every day to give yourself a chance, so we're really happy for you."
Mountain Creek State High's teacher and open's rugby league coach Todd Brutnell said his star pupil was set apart due to "champion-like" qualities.
"I always say, with the champions you need to hold them back sometimes, often they want to do too much work," Mr Brutnell said.
"That's Trent. He's always been something special and such a competitor."
Mr Brutnell said Trent was always his harshest critic, constantly asking questions of his coaches and himself, "what do I need to do?", "am I quick enough?".
"Trent's really had to put his bum down and push his way in, but that's who he is, it's right up his alley," he said.
"I remember coaching him in Year 8 and he would always pick the biggest guy and take him on. He didn't care."
Mr Brutnell watched Trent's debut at home on television with family and friends over.
He found himself taking photos of the screen on his phone to record the moment.
"It's was a big moment, one I'll boast about for a long time," he said.
Gino, who played for Kawana and Caloundra as a "hack" player, said his son was a product of sheer hard work, determination and loyalty.
He said Trent never shied away from doing extras, even as a young fella.
"He'd be down at the park by himself setting up ladders, do sprints, with the stopwatch going, he'd push himself and come in sweating like a pig," he said.
"He always did extras. Always.
"Even in the off season when he wasn't meant to be training, he'd be going for runs. He said he wanted this to be his breakout year."