Oliver Gildart was hailed for delivering the “magic” for England to put them 1-0 up in the Test series with New Zealand.
The hosts were trailing heading into the final 15-minutes when Wigan centre Gildart scorched over for a stunning debut try to secure an 18-16 victory in Hull.
Team-mate George Williams said: “It doesn’t get much better than that.
“It was a dream come true for him to make his debut and then to score a 60m winner – it was written in the stars.
“We’re best mates and it’s great to see him do it.”
The pivotal moment came in the 66th minute when John Bateman squeezed out a pass on halfway to Gildart, who evaded the challenge of second rower Isaac Liu, held off the chasers and rounded the full-back on a 40-metre dash to the line.
Prop Luke Thompson, who used to play in the same St Edmund Arrowsmith High team as Gildart, said: “Gilly’s try was pretty special. It was a bit of magic from Gilly, a great feeling when he scored.”
And Thompson’s St Helens team-mate Tommy Makinson - a former St Judes junior - said: “He’s a talented lad and a great fella.
“I’ve seen him do that at club level and when he broke through I was confident he would finish it. Good on him.”
Gildart, the only debutant in the England side, was only drafted into the squad as a late replacement for Sam Burgess.
“Unbelievable, I backed myself in space and luckily got over,” he told the BBC.
“It happens really quick, I sprinted as fast as I could! I am buzzing to make my debut for England and get the win. It was tough, a shock to the system.”
The second Test takes place at Liverpool’s Anfield this Sunday.