Maroons' big 'Bully' no dumb jock
It is no surprise young Queensland under 18s enforcer and OP1 student Ethan Bullemor has tried to model his game around Brisbane's workaholic forward Matt Gillett.
Bullemor, 18, is such a big fan of Gillett's high work ethic, he has adopted a similar mentality of doing the one-percenters just like the Queensland and Australian back-rower.
"There are people who are naturally brighter than me but I am prepared to do a lot of hard work (academically). It's similar to how I approach my footy," Bullemor told QRL Media.
On Wednesday night at Melbourne's famous MCG, Bullemor will put those principles into practice, doing everything he can to make sure Queensland win their interstate clash against NSW under 18s.
Like the senior Queensland Origin players, Bullemor - who hails from Springsure in the Central Highlands region south of Emerald - says he understands what it means to wear a maroon jumper.
"It's a credit to Queensland how they filter down the pride and passion to us juniors," said Bullemor, now on contract to the Brisbane Broncos.
Origin debutants often talk about how fast and furious Origin is, how the 80 minutes is gone before they know it and how it leaves them totally drained, emotionally, not just physically.
Bullemor says the experience is similar for the young players when they first wear a maroon jumper.
"It's an unreal feeling," he said.
"I played the under 16s and from memory I played the whole 80 minutes in the middle. When the adrenalin kicks in you don't want to let down your state.
"It's massive to me.
"It's a step up from anything else you have played or experienced."
Bullemor will definitely be on a Maroon mission at the MCG after losing his previous representative clash to the Blues by just two points playing U-16s two years ago.
"It was a very fast and heated game. We went down by two points which was pretty tough to swallow" he said.
"Obviously the coaches feed that rivalry into us in a good way and while we (players) all get together after the game, you know when you are on the field it is war."
Bullemor is not your typical front-rower.
For a start, he finished high school at Brisbane's exclusive Nudgee College with an OP 1 -- putting him in the top 15 percent of students in Queensland.
There's a saying in rugby league that wingers are just people who hang around rugby league players, which these days, with all the spectacular aerial tries they score, is obviously outdated.
Now Bullemor, with his high academic ranking, is changing the image that front-rowers are just the brawn and not the brains of the team.
Bullemor splits his time between classes at the University of Queensland (UQ) where he is doing a newly introduced Bachelor of Advanced Finance and Economics degree and training with the Brisbane Broncos at Red Hill.
"It (studies) is really hard to be honest. It is definitely challenging, but I enjoy it," he said.
While Bullemor wants to achieve his goal of being a professional sportsman he realises the importance of planning for the future and for life after football because he knows, anything can happen.
"I give them equal weight in a sense.
"While rugby league is my love and my passion it's not going to sustain me for the rest of my life and I have to look at life after footy."
Bullemor said his parents had raised him to love Queensland and the Broncos.
"I've been pretty obsessed with them both since I was about five, he grinned.
"I've got so many memories of Origin, it's insane. I don't think I have missed watching and Origin game since I was five years old.
Bullemor speaks highly on the influence Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett is having, not only on his budding career, but all the young hopefuls at the club.
"He gives us regular reports on our progress. He is a tough critic, tells it how it is, which I think is one of the keys to success.
"It lifts all our spirits, someone of his stature taking such an interest in us.
"He is approachable. He's got that right mix of harshness and love.
"You can ask him a question and know he is not going to reprimand you. He just wants what is best for us and our development, and sometimes you need to hear the harsh truth or what you are doing wrong."
Bullemor, who admits it costs his parents around $200 a week to feed him, copped a head knock in his last game which fractured a few of his teeth, slowing down his eating.
He is currently receiving dental treatment and is still experiencing some pain a few days out from the big game.
"It's still a little painful but it won't be a problem," he says confidently.
"Nothing is going to keep me off the field."