Jake Shorrocks admits he was shocked when Shaun Wane gave him a first-team call-up – just hours before kick-off.
The 20-year-old was handed his big chance on Thursday night after George Williams was ruled out with a leg injury.
Starting at stand-off, he helped Wigan to a gutsy 7-0 win at Widnes which moved them level with Hull FC at the top.
He said: “I was lying in bed at about 11am when Shaun rang me and said, ‘I’m looking at giving you a debut, are you ready for it?’
“Because it was game-day, I was a bit surprised he was calling me.
“It was a shock. I didn’t know what to say - he must have thought I was down, but I was over the moon really!
“As soon as he hung up I rang by dad and told my girlfriend. I sat down and watched the England-Wales game, just to try and take my mind off it.”
Former St Pat’s junior Shorrocks fitted in well into a side missing nine front-line regulars.
“It was a big step up from reserve level and Swinton, but I thought I handled it alright,” he said.
“I’ve been training with them for some time so I know all the plays, and all the boys spoke to me and made sure I was okay.
“The build-up wasn’t different to what I was used to, it was just bigger, in terms of the crowd and the atmosphere.
“It wasn’t the best of games – there were a lot of errors and we only scored seven points – but we were pleased to get the win.”
His performance was hailed by halfback partner Matty Smith.
He said: “There’s obviously a disruption when you change players, but when you have someone of the quality of Jake, it’s easier.
“For such a young kid, the talk on him was pretty impressive. He’s got a bright future ahead of him.”
Shorrocks was playing only his third game, at any level, since returning from a lay-off with a serious knee injury.
And while Williams may be one of several stars returning for next Saturday’s Challenge Cup game against Castleford, he hopes to keep on the periphery of the senior side.
He added: “I’ve not put a target on how many games I want to play, I just want to give Shaun as much of a head ache as I can and so he keeps me in his mind.”
Sam and Joel Tomkins may also return next week but Anthony Gelling has suffered a recurrence of the pectoral injury which sidelined him last month.
Nick Gregson also didn’t finish the game at Widnes after hobbling off with a knee injury.