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Tuipulotu christened in baptism of fire but proves he belongs

Christian Tuipulotu had the toughest of initiations in his NRL debut against Melbourne but justified his selection over England Test legend Ryan Hall with a gutsy, try-scoring debut.

The softly spoken Roosters 19-year-old was lost for words when told by his coach to prepare for his debut, and briefly lost for words again when asked about the moment by after the 24-6 loss.

"He told me before we had video … I had no words to say back to him," Tuipulotu said. "I was lost for words."

Tuipulotu's parents, who are with him in Sydney and were on hand for his debut, were first to hear the news of his maiden match.

"I told my parents. They're here, luckily. They were here tonight. I had a few [family] here, most of them are back home," he said.

Christian Tuipulotu dives over on debut.
Christian Tuipulotu dives over on debut. ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

A product of famed Auckland rugby league nursery St Paul's College, Tuipulotu headed to Australia at 17 after being picked up by the Roosters, having previously spent time in the Warriors and Auckland Blues systems.

Forcing his way into Robinson's side is even more impressive given the lack of lower-grade games to press his case.

"It's been a bit challenging, there's no games for us, Cup or 20s so at training we have to do our best," he said.

"It's been hard but it was good to get the opportunity today and it's thanks to the Roosters, I'm grateful for everything they've done for me and my family."

Tuipulotu was severely tested by the Melbourne kickers on Thursday, being asked to field numerous towering bombs.

Tuipulotu gets a try on debut

The Storm were able to force a couple of errors from the rookie but he never dropped his head and was rewarded with a late try when he hit a neat Drew Hutchison long ball.

He finished with 130 metres and a couple of busts to go with his 63rd-minute try.

"It was pretty tough but I had to keep my head down and keep going hard," he said.

"The opposition were going hard the whole time. Heaps to work on for next time."

Tuipulotu's perseverance drew praise from his coach.

"He's trained really well for a long period of time, Christian," Robinson said.

"He's a big guy, physical guy. He got tested a lot [against Melbourne] and kept coming. Right from the word go he got tested then I thought he grew the longer the game went.

"He kept trying and kept pushing and that's what you want from a guy in his first game."

Acknowledgement of Country

Sydney Roosters respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.