Raiders youngster Xavier Savage may go down in the annals of rugby league after having one of the most bizarre debuts in NRL history.
Savage was a surprise feature in the Dragons’ mighty comeback win over the Raiders at WIN Stadium tonight after being brought in under the league’s new 18th man system.
Canberra’s Sebastian Kris was ruled out at half-time after he was concussed following high contact from St George Illawarra’s Jack Bird.
When the Raiders emerged for the second period, 19-year-old Savage was with them, taking to the field for his dream debut in place of Kris.
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The rookie winger was congratulated by his teammates, who ran over to share a hug with the youngster.
But celebrations would be cut short when Savage was hooked just 11-minutes later, as sheepish Raiders officials scrambled to get him off the field.
After some confusion it became clear that Canberra had sent Savage out under incorrect interpretation of the 18th man rule.
The 18th man rule can only be activated in the event a player is ruled out as a result of fair play and the offending player is sent to the bin or sent off.
As Bird remained on the field following his shot on Kris, the 18th man was not allowed to be activated.
“A bit of drama down here on the sideline. We saw Xavier Savage go on the field only moments ago, with Sebastian Kris ruled out with a (failed) HIA,” Fox League reporter Jake Duke said.
“Xavier Savage has now been pulled off because apparently there’s been a mistake with the NRL sideline officials… Savage should not have been allowed to come on because Jack Bird wasn’t sin-binned for that high contact, he was just put on report.”
It prompted mass confusion over whether Savage’s brief feature technically counted as an official debut.
“I’m not sure, if he’s on match payments, whether he gets the match payment?” Queensland great Corey Parker said in commentary for Fox Sports.