NRL record-holder gets Penrith No.1 shot

Matt Encarnacion
Caleb Aekins (l) gets his chance at fullback for Penrith against Parramatta this weekend

It has been 606 days since Caleb Aekins ran for 303 metres in his NRL debut.

Since then it's been slim pickings for the Penrith youngster, who has made just three more appearances following that fateful day against Cronulla.

But the 22-year-old will get another chance to impress when he deputises for an injured Dylan Edwards in Saturday's season-opener against the Sydney Roosters.

"It's been a long process, but it's good to be back out there," Aekins told AAP.

Aekins admits he was left frustrated by the red tape that limited him to just the one game in 2018 because of his status as a development player at the time.

The 303 metres still stands as a record for any player on debut.

"I wasn't a big fan of the rules at the time. I thought it was the start of my NRL career. It was mixed emotions when I couldn't play the next week," Aekins said.

He went on to play in three straight matches between rounds seven-nine, but was unable to make an impact in a side that dropped eight of their first 10 games.

He hasn't seen a first-grade jersey since.

"I thought I went alright, but I just had a few things I needed to fix up. I went back to Cup for the rest of that year and it opened my eyes," Aekins said.

"I just needed to build on top of what I was doing. I've changed a lot since then, especially moulding into this new system we have."

With Edwards out for at least the opening month of the season, the Panthers will need Aekins to repeat his record-breaking feats of two years ago.

Not that the Whangerei product needs much motivation, having waited patiently for another shot in the No.1 jumper since making his debut.

"I always wanted to stick it out. Once I got that first taste all I've been doing is thinking to myself how much I wanted to be playing up there," he said.

"My first game was my test, whether I was up to it or not and I felt I was. I just wanted to get back up there now and prove myself again."