“There is nothing better than beating New South Wales.”
With those words from injured Maroons star Sam Thaiday, the Queensland Under 16 team set off for their first training session in preparation for Wednesday’s interstate match against New South Wales.
Thaiday was on hand to meet the Queensland youngsters when they assembled at Suncorp Stadium earlier today.
The players met outside the ground at the Wally Lewis statue, before making their way into the hallowed stadium where they were greeted by a smiling Thaiday.
There were hand-shakes all round as the Broncos forward left a lasting impression on some potential future Maroons.
“I pretty much told them to enjoy the week, and really enjoy the opportunity that they have to play out here,” Thaiday said.
“I told them that there is nothing better than beating New South Wales.”
Thaiday, a key member of Maroons team that has won eight-straight series, knows exactly what that feeling is like.
But it hasn’t always been the case.
The Broncos forward recalled how his Queensland Under 17 team “got pumped” by a star-studded Blues team in Sydney more than a decade ago.
“New South Wales had a heap of players … Sonny-Bill Williams, Ben Creagh, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs and Keith Galloway, they had a really good forward pack that year,” Thaiday said.
Despite the heavy defeat, Thaiday still has fond memories from pulling on that maroon jersey for the first time.
“It was the best feeling ever. I had never made a Queensland team before and I got the chance to play at ANZ Stadium,” Thaiday said.
“I got to hang around afterwards and watch the State of Origin. It was something I probably never thought I’d do, being a Townsville kid.”
Neville Costigan and Paul Aiton were other notable teammates in Thaiday’s Queensland Under 17 team.
This year’s Queensland Under 16 side will travel to the Gold Coast later today after their first training session at Red Hill.
They will have lunch with the Maroons Origin side at Sanctuary Cove on Sunday.