Debut was 'pretty unreal' for Hola despite Cowboys loss

The North Queensland Cowboys did not get the result they were after against the Brisbane Broncos, but it did not stop the night from being super memorable for prop Peter Hola. 

The 20-year-old made his NRL debut during the XXXX Derby, which saw the Broncos win 18-14 during their last ever meeting at 1300SMILES in Townsville

"It was pretty unreal," Hola, who has been playing for Northern Pride in the Intrust Super Cup, said.

Peter Hola in action for Northern Pride. Photo: QRL Media
Peter Hola in action for Northern Pride. Photo: QRL Media

"I felt like I went alright. It's way faster than what I thought. Physicality wise, it's pretty much the same as Intrust Super Cup, but speed was way different."

Hola is similar to Jason Taumalolo in size, stature and workrate.

The 110kg wrecking ball may have only played 11 minutes on debut, but maintained a consistently high work rate recording 32 run metres from just three carries, with an average of 10.7m per run.

For perspective, Taumalolo is one of the only forwards in the Cowboys forward pack who consistently maintains an average above 10 run metres per carry. 

Hola found out he would realise his dream of playing NRL on Wednesday, the day before the game, after Jordan McLean was ruled out with a calf injury sustained during captain’s run.

"I didn't think I was going to get a debut," Hola said. 

"It was unreal to get the call up for that game, out of all games. Probably the best game to get a debut in. It's a major game for us."

Hola said he phoned his parents in Auckland straight after getting the call from coach Paul Green telling him he would play off the bench.

Peter Hola on the bench. Photo: NRL Images
Peter Hola on the bench. Photo: NRL Images

"I gave my dad a call and said I was playing... he got emotional and I starting getting emotional. Not many words were spoken - more crying," Hola said. 

The Cowboys flew Hola's parents over to watch their son play and Hola said it helped make the night extra special. 

"My mum and dad flew in the morning of the game... it was good to see them here supporting me," Hola said. "I was pretty happy they did that."

The Pride star, who has been contracted to the Cowboys for three years, admitted his first game of NRL was "really overwhelming". 

"All the boys gave me some good advice about being calm when I got on the field and not to overthink things. Just to do my job and run hard," Hola said. 

"Once I hit the field, I was pretty happy. It was so good to get out there with the boys." 

Hola, who primarily played in Pride's Hastings Deering Colts team last year, said stars Taumalolo and John Asiata had taken him under their wing at the club.

"They give me advice about what to do and what not to do - on and off the field, which is good," Hola said, adding their biggest advice was to "always stay professional - not just on the field, but off the field".

"NRL is not just a part time thing... it's a full time thing. Wherever I go, I need to make sure I'm being professional with whatever I do. 

"Hopefully now I get as many games as I can. You never know what could happen tomorrow. I could get injured. So I'm just taking it day by day and enjoying my footy.

"I'll be staying here for three more years - it's good."