Ben Lovett's world changed last Saturday night.
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Never was it more evident than hours after he made his NRL debut for the South Sydney Rabbitohs and walked into The Locker Room pub for a celebratory post-game drink with his family.
"There was a lady there. I had no idea who she was and she was dancing with my head," the Parkes Spacemen junior laughed.
The head in question was one of the giant cardboard cut-outs of the 21-year-old's face a number of close friends and family from Parkes were waving throughout the match at Accor Stadium.
"I was like 'that's me!' and we got a photo and it was just surreal," the Rabbitohs young gun said.
Lovett, a former star Group 11, Western Rams and NSW Country junior, made his long-awaited NRL debut for the Rabbitohs in the thrilling clash with Manly and looked at home during his limited time on the field.
The hard-working back-rower played the final 20 minutes of the match and got through plenty of work in defence while always impressed with his willingness to pressure opposition kickers.
It was a night to treasure for Lovett, made even more special by the emotion around the match following the death of Rabbitohs legend John Sattler, and the fact Souths won 13-12 in golden point.
Speaking on Tuesday, he admitted the realisation of what he had achieved had still not fully sunk in.
"I had Monday off and I got some time. Looking through photos and reminiscing and I thought 'this is pretty crazy'," he said.
"Saturday night we didn't get to do too much and then Sunday was recovery (training session) so it wasn't until Monday and I got to see the photos of friends, family and all the blokes I shared the field with.
"That was crazy and then I look back at the days when I was playing at Parkes and you think 'how is this even possible?'."
Lovett was someone who continually caught the eye when coming the lower grades at the Rabbitohs after making the move from Parkes following the 2018 Group 11 season.
He'd been tipped to play in the top grade but had to bide his time as a reserve on a number of occasions, including last year when he made the trip back to Dubbo only to watch the Rabbitohs get crushed by Canberra at Apex Oval.
He was told during the week he would be debuting against Manly and despite only telling family and a couple of mates the moment was nearing, the response from his hometown and the Western Rams region was huge.
"I said on the day to the people there, they're the reason I play and it's special," he said.
"For everyone to be there, I know the boys hired a bus on the day to get there and drove back the next night.
"I really didn't do much, I told a few boys and all of a suddenly there was 150 people there. It either shows how much it means for them for me to play footy or how much they mean to me. It made me that happy.
"I look back on my whole journey and that's the whole reason. When we ran out at the start the first thing I saw was 10 of my heads printed out and that was pretty funny. It was amazing."
Seeing people like long-time Western Rams coach Tony Woolnough among those supporters was also a moment of pride for Lovett.
The former Parkes junior captain worked under Woolnough during his time with the Rams and he gives him and many others a huge amount of credit for his own success.
"I owe a huge amount to my junior footy, especially those later years when I was 16, 17, 18," he said.
"Blokes like Kurt Hancock, Tony Woolnough and the coaches and rep teams and then (former Parkes player and under 18s coach) Sammy Dwyer and blokes like that made me who I am and helped me get where I am.
"Tony Woolnough was there and seeing him happy meant so much to me. I just want to thank that community."
Lovett could see those his family, friends and former junior teammates on the opposite side of the field to him while he sat on the bench for the bulk of Saturday's match.
It was a nerve-wracking experience, made more intense by the close nature of the clash with Manly.
Lovett admitted the nerves weren't as bad as he expected and, in the end, the entire match and his time on the field went by in a blur.
"I prepped well and felt comfortable and I was just waiting for that moment and then it all happened so quick," he said.
"I remember warming up and thinking it was still another 80 minutes and then next thing it was half-time and then next thing I knew I was going on the field 20 minutes into the second half.
"I look back now and it was like a minute, really."
One thing which does stand out for him, though, is the feeling around the match and the tributes to Sattler.
Made famous for playing in a grand final with a busted jaw, Sattler was someone who played in six deciders for the Rabbitohs.
He passed away at the age of 80 in the week before the game and the club honoured him by wearing a special commemorative jersey, having his family provide a guard of honour for the players, and holding a minute's silence pre-game.
One of the most special moments for Lovett came before the match when John's son Scott - also an NRL premiership winner - presented him with his jersey.
"For 'Satts', it was a privilege and an honour. Not just to be a part of this great club, but to debut and be honouring him. I got my jersey presented by Scott, his son, so for that to happen was a great privilege," Lovett said.
"It goes to show how great this club really is. The way everyone came together to honour his life and legacy was done really well.
"From the footy side and the club staff, getting the jersey together in the time it did and then to the game, it was a real honour and it was quite amazing."
With Rabbitohs prop Hame Sele back from a concussion stand-down, Lovett has been named among the reserves for Friday's clash with Melbourne and will likely have to wait to add to his sole appearance in the NRL.
Given his showing on debut and the belief his now has, that second match will likely come sooner rather than later.
"It gives me a lot of confidence that I can be there," Lovett said of his debut.
"A big thing with a lot of young fellas or blokes coming through the grades is earning that confidence or the respect and realisation you can be out there and play footy with your Cody Walkers, Cam Murrays and Latrell (Mitchell).
"It gives me a lot of confidence and gives me a lot of drive."
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