IF at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
Chris Adams did. And finally, after a litany of setbacks, heartache and adversity that may have broken a lesser man, the 25-year-old hooker realised a childhood dream on Saturday night when he made his NRL debut for the Newcastle Knights.
Everyone who plays first-grade football has a tale to tell, but Adams is one of those feel-good stories that virtually writes itself after becoming the 234th man to pull on the blue-and-red jersey in top company.
A Bellingen Magpies junior, Adams linked with Wyong seven years ago and after three years on the Central Coast, plus a season in North Sydney’s Jersey Flegg (under-20) side, he moved to Cessnock, where he was scouted by then Knights coach Brian Smith.
Adams started training with Newcastle in the 2010 pre-season and has received game time in the trial matches for the past three years.
But two broken arms, a broken wrist and a bulging disc in his neck threatened to crash-tackle his career before it had even kicked off.
‘‘This year I was doubting whether I’d ever get a chance,’’ Adams said.
‘‘But I had a lot of support from family and friends to keep plugging away.
‘‘All the hard work that I’ve done, it’s just a bit of a relief now to finally play first grade.
‘‘I’ve done all I can.’’
With only three NSW Cup games under his belt this season, Adams was called onto the interchange bench last week to bolster Newcastle’s dummy-half options in Saturday night’s home showdown with North Queensland.
He entered the fray in the 27th minute and produced an error-free 32 minutes either side of the half-time interval that featured 18 tackles and two dummy-half surges, one of which got him to within inches of the try line.
Knights coach Wayne Bennett was typically economical with his words after the match but still saluted Adams for a job well done.
‘‘I thought he was really good,’’ Bennett said.
‘‘Tackled great and did the job a dummy half should do.’’
Adams was happy with how quickly he adapted to the tempo of the contest.
‘‘The first 10 minutes was pretty good,’’ he said.
‘‘Coming into the second half, maybe 12 minutes into it, I was starting to feel the pressure then but plugged away for a bit and they pulled me off, which was probably a good move ... the speed of it wasn’t as fast as I thought it would be.
‘‘It’s just they’re a lot bigger, a lot stronger.’’
Adams said veteran Danny Buderus, whose Achilles injury created the vacancy he filled on Saturday night, had been a great support and mentor since returning to the Knights in November.
‘‘I was full-time all through the pre-season and Bedsy helped me out an awful lot,’’ Adams said.
‘‘Just with his tips. I just tried to soak it up.
‘‘He was awesome, giving me tips all the time ... defence has been the strong point of my game, so he’s mainly helped me out with my attack.’’
Contracted until the end of this season, Adams was more inclined to savour the moment on Saturday night than start worrying about the future.
‘‘I haven’t really thought about that at this stage,’’ he said.
‘‘I’ll just keep plugging away here and see what my options are at the end of the season.
‘‘Hopefully I get some more games.
‘‘Hopefully I get some shots at it and keep improving.’’