The full back, who featured for the club’s under-18 side back in June, had the perfect start at Twickenham Stoop, crossing for the game’s opening try after only five minutes. He was also a calming presence at the back, dealing with the hosts’ aerial threat and proving dangerous on the counter.
With his family in attendance in London, Winnett was still trying to find the words to describe his immense pride at representing his home club. “It’s unreal and a proud moment for the family. Despite ultimately losing the game, a Cardiff side missing up to 30 players won the hearts and minds of supporters with a courageous performance.
“It doesn’t feel real, it feels like I’m in a dream,” explained the pathway product. I’m happy with the try and the performance the boys put out and we can go home with no regrets. Happy days.
“For the try, it came from a bit of skills from Fishy with the dummy to set me up in the corner. It just didn’t feel real like. I got up having scored a try and I’m still just lost for words.
“Hopefully this can set me off for the future and I can keep playing and keep improving. I want to keep working on my mistakes, get better and keep on going.”
Fellow back three youngster, Theo Cabango, also impressed at the Stoop, scoring a sensational individual score as the Blue and Blacks – missing 42 players – went toe-to-toe with the Quins. Winnett believes the experience of the last two weeks will provide the youngsters with a springboard in their development, as they learned from the likes of Josh Adams, Rey Lee-Lo and Ellis Jenkins.
The 18 year old added: “We were in the game, and the first half was unreal and we needed to come out in the same way for the second half. We wanted to keep putting the pressure on, keep playing with fast ball but unfortunately Harlequins came out with the win at the end.
“Theo is an unreal player and is absolutely rapid. He’s really good to play with and has great chat.
“As youngsters, we’ve gained a lot of experience from playing with the likes of Josh Adams and Ellis Jenkins. It’s been unreal to learn from them and it’s been a really fun two weeks. Hopefully we can play more with them.
“Hopefully I know what it’s like now and when I come in next time I won’t be as nervous. But for now I’m just happy to have made my debut and score a try. It’s a proud moment for me and my family and it’s a dream to put this jersey on.
“I just couldn’t wait to come onto this field and show my talent with the rest of the boys. I couldn’t be happier right now. It’s unreal to go from playing for the under-18s in June to playing for Cardiff RFC in the Premiership. Now I’m playing against Harlequins in front of a crowd like this.
“I wanted to go out there and have fun and obviously show what I can do. I thought I did that today but I’ve still got work-ons and areas to improve.
“But I’m still young and hopefully the future hols something good for me. But if not, I’m happy.”