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Bone crushing runs in Napa family

By Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent‌‌, ‌‌‌NRL.com

Dylan Napa
SMILING ASSASSIN: Dylan Napa is known for his aggressive, physical style.
'He is a massive bloke and plays the game hard'

Stan Napa never had the opportunity to play for Queensland but he sure made an impact in his brief appearances at Lang Park in the early 1980s.

Brought to Brisbane from NZ with Mark Graham by new Norths Devils coach Graham Lowe for the 1980 season, the ferocious nature of Napa's defence left an impression on many opposition players, not to mention his captain.

Queensland's first Origin halfback Mark Murray was skipper of Norths in 1980 and witnessed first-hand Napa's propensity to stomp all over the line between aggression and foul play, which is why he is so excited to see Stan's son, Dylan, make his debut for Queensland in Game  I of the Holden State of Origin Series tonight (May 31).

Like his father, Dylan has established himself as one of the most brutal defenders in the NRL, making a point of picking out the biggest, baddest hombre on the other side of the field and sitting them fair on their backsides.

He ripped a much vaunted South Sydney forward pack to shreds virtually by himself in Round 6 last year and in his last start for the Roosters waged a one-man war against Bulldogs and NSW behemoth David Klemmer.

When Dylan came through the Aspley Devils juniors Murray was still heavily involved at the club and said the similarities in the way he and his father approached the game were obvious from day one.

'He is so pumped and fired up and ready to go'

"He's certainly got his mother's colouring and he's a lot taller than Stan was but there is something in his DNA that makes him play the game in a very similar way to how Stan played," Murray said.

"I remember seeing Dylan play as a junior and there was certainly something about him that stood out. We played an under-17s semi-final at Langlands Park against North Queensland, I think, and he came off the bench and completely changed the game with his defence.

"If he doesn't play we don't win that game.

"I got in touch with Stan and his mother Karen and suggested we have lunch to talk about his future with a view to getting him to the Broncos but unfortunately that lunch never happened.

"The Roosters had expressed some interest and he ended up going there instead.

"With the way teams are taught to defend these days there aren't any big-hitters in the game any more so I'm excited to see what Dylan's going to do on Wednesday night."

'There is going to be some artillery flying around'

After a short stint with the Devils, Stan made the move to Sydney to play with the North Sydney Bears where he played four games in the then New South Wales Rugby League in 1983 before a knee injury brought his career to an end.

"The thing with Stan was that he played with plenty of aggression and he often liked to tackle above the shoulders," Murray recalled.

"The sin bin had been introduced at that stage and Stan was quite a frequent visitor. The thing I remember most about playing with Stan is that I often saw the back of him as he was walking off the field.

"But he was a great character to have around the club, he was the perfect build for a ball carrier in the forwards and he was very intimidating."

Penalty problem gone

As Stan did more than 30 years ago, Dylan's aggressive way of defending can sometimes land him in trouble with the match officials but his teammates this week have no fears that he will be in any way reckless against the Blues.

Having conceded 11 penalties in 23 games for the Roosters last season Dylan has been penalised just once in nine games in 2017, prompting fellow Maroons front-rower Jacob Lillyman to give him the all-clear to give the Blues his best tonight.

"I don't think he is at risk of doing something silly. Everything will be within the rules of the game, but he will be looking to bring that physical side of things," Lillyman said.

"He is such a big body, he is a massive bloke and plays the game hard. Added to that, he is so pumped and fired up and ready to go.

"There is going to be some artillery flying around. He is a real physical player, he brings that presence and he will look to assert that."

Major impact 

Two years his senior, fellow Aspley Devils junior Josh McGuire knows exactly what it feels like to be on the end of a Napa bell-ringer and the Maroons lock believes the Origin debutant can have a major influence on the outcome of Game I.

"He's not a silly football player and he knows what's at stake. I'm very excited for him and he wouldn't be picked if he wasn't going to do the job," McGuire said.

"He just has to do what he's been doing at club level, playing good solid footy, running hard and hitting blokes and I'm sure if he does that he'll play a good game.

"He's a guy that I don't want to run at in a game but you do your best not to hit him front on because he can definitely pack a punch.

"He's a very good competitor and the Roosters forward leader to be honest. He really leads by example and when he decides to play good footy that team usually wins their game."

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