The Under 16 Queensland side will be able to draw on some tips from current Maroons legends when they meet their NSW counterparts tomorrow night.
The youngsters got the chance to rub shoulders with the senior squad while in camp on the Gold Coast over the weekend.
Queensland coach Kurt Richards said the two teams shared lunch and there was plenty of talk between the two camps.
“All the boys’ eyes lit up when we sat down and we’re thankful to the senior Origin side for being so accommodating and allowing that to happen,” he said.
“It happened last year and it was great to do it again.”
With players travelling from as far north as Cairns and Townsville as well as coming in from regional centres like Toowoomba and Ipswich to join the Brisbane, Redcliffe and the Gold Coast contingent in the south east to form the side; it was a valuable team building exercise.
Richards said the team has gelled well on the paddock since coming together.
“The camp was largely about making sure the boys were able to get to know each other, we really do have a sprinkling from across the state,” he said.
While the majority of the squad have been a part of the elite Queensland Academy of Sport program, two players were rewarded for standout performances in the Cyril Connell Cup.
“Darius Farmer (Ipswich Jets) and Max Dowd (Gold Coast White) were outstanding, further outlining that the Connell Cup is a great pathway,” Richards said.
Farmer is named to start in the second row, while Dowd has been selected at five-eighth.
The Queensland side includes four players who played in the state Under 16 final between Townsville Stingers and Sunshine Coast Falcons.
Stingers’ Tom Kenny crossed for a hat-trick in the dramatic 31-30 victory and will bring his top finishing ability to the wing for the junior Maroons.
“I don’t want to give too much away, but we’ve got different strengths in our squad compared to last year,” Richards said.
But as the old adage goes, toughness and not necessarily talent will get you across the line in Origin.
“Talent got them here, but it’s going to be hard work on Wednesday night,” Richards said.
Richards was in charge of the side that weathered a late NSW comeback to win the corresponding fixture 20-18 last year.
That was in front of a home crowd – there’s been a slightly different lead up prior to the trip south to ANZ Stadium.
The team flew out from Gold Coast airport this morning ahead of tomorrow night’s clash.
“I think the final message will be to keep things simple, work hard for one another… run hard and tackle hard,” Edwards said.
*The match will be live streamed via QRL.com.au – so make sure you tune in tomorrow night from 5.50pm.