The chance to represent your state on the hallowed turf of the MCG is not one afforded to many players.
That is why the Queensland Under 18 side is out to make the most the opportunity when they run out against their New South Wales counterparts tonight.
The group got their first look at the ground as part of the senior Maroons’ captains run yesterday.
“We thought it would be a good idea to get down to ground level and have a walk around, it can be a little a bit daunting, you just get lost in the size of place,” coach Anthony Seibold said.
“Some of the Under 16s in this squad previously played at Etihad Stadium … this is just another great experience for all the guys.”
The Under 18 team will be captained by prop Keegan Hipgrave, who played in last year’s corresponding fixture – won 24-10 by NSW.
The Nerang junior is joined in the pack by Brisbane Broncos Under 20s team-mates Jaydn Su’a, Michael Molo and Lachlan Lanskey, who make up the starting backrow.
Seibold said he was after strong performances from his players with NYC experience.
“Jaydn in particular has been in great form for Brisbane and we’ll be looking at them to make an impact for us on the fringe.
“We decided to blood a few younger guys and there are a few who are under 17 – a year young for this age group.”
Four members from the Mal Meninga Cup winning Townsville Stingers side feature in the backline, including Gehamat Shibasaki, Enari Tuala, Bacho Salam and Mitchell Dunn.
The North Queensland-contracted Dunn partners Joshua Fauid in the halves, who made his Intrust Super Cup debut for the Devils last month.
The duo face a strong Blues’ combination in Newcastle Knights Under 20s duo Brock Lamb and Jack Cogger.
It’s been a slightly different preparation for the squad this year.
In conjunction with the senior side, the Under 18s were posted in Melbourne for the duration of their camp.
“Last year the travel from Queensland to Sydney on the Monday before the game took a bit out of us, so that was something we looked at in our review,” Seibold said.
The former Mackay Cutters mentor said his side has handled themselves well in opposed sessions against the Maroons and Melbourne Storm Under 20s squad.
The final word in the sheds tonight? Watertight defence.
“We’ll focus our preparation as we get closer to kick off,” Seibold said.
“The talk will be mostly about defensive actions, we want to start aggressively and hit and stick in our tackles.
“But overall, it’s about enjoying the experience. It’s a great opportunity for these boys to wear the Queensland jersey.”