Before the Maroons take the field tonight (Wednesday, May 31) in the opening clash of the Holden State of Origin series, it will be the Queensland Under 20s who battle for glory as they take on NSW as a curtain-raiser to the big match at Suncorp Stadium.
Under the watchful eye of their coaches, Queensland Origin legends Justin Hodges and Scott Prince and mentor Lote Tuqiri, the team - which has never beaten the Blues - were given the chance to test themselves against the Maroons side in a series of opposed training sessions.
“It’s been a blast, just me and the boys having a good time and getting to know everyone,” Under 20s fullback and young Brisbane Bronco Corey Allan told QRL Media.
“I learnt a lot taking on the senior Maroons when it comes to how fast the game is and how physical it is. Just watching Darius Boyd at the back just teaches me everything you need to know.”
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Hooker Harry Grant from the Melbourne Storm said he got a lot from their first training session and matchup against the senior side.
“Just learning how clinical they are,” Grant said. “They are all on par with each other, they know what each other is doing, and just the speed that they do everything is impressive.”
As the Under 20s mentor for this camp, Tuqiri has watched the team closely and said he expected a good display come game day.
“There’s a lot of talent on this team on the backline, and hopefully the Queensland fans can see them open up.”
After playing 24 Origin matches for the Maroons himself, this year’s Under 20s head coach Hodges is no stranger to the rivalry and said he expected his squad to carry on that Queensland tradition.
“You almost get brought to tears when you speak about the Queensland jersey,” Hodges told QRL Media when he appointed to the role.
“I know what it means to the players that wore it before me and obviously when I wore that jersey it meant everything to me.
“The people that wore it before me were great warriors.
“If I can pass my message on and what I’ve learned playing in my career for Queensland, just everything that Queensland stands for.
“The trust, the aggression, all that type of stuff that Queenslanders live for. That never-die attitude, and that’s something I want to instil in these boys.”
Queensland Under 20s Origin team list (updated)
1. Corey Allan
2. Phillip Sami
3. Gehamat Shibasaki
4. Daniel Brownbill
5. Tristan Sailor
6. AJ Brimson
7. Brodie Croft (c)
8. Patrick Carrigan
9. Harry Grant
10. Keenan Palasia
11. Hiale Roycroft
12. Mitch Dunn
13. Keegan Hipgrave
14. Gerome Burns
15. Apiata Nomea
16. Corey Horsburgh
17. Thomas Skinner
18. Samuel Johnstone
Coach: Justin Hodges
Assistant Coach: Scott Prince