McCullough's tribute to Cyril Connell ahead of debut

When the Queensland Maroons paused to give thanks to those that helped them along their career, debutant Andrew McCullough came up with the most poignant response.

After waiting 10 years in the NRL for a State of Origin debut, McCullough remembered a man who helped him in the very beginning - one who is no longer here to witness the young Dalby Devil's feats.

To watch the full interview click on the embedded video above.

Connell, who helped identify and nurture generations of talented footballers around Queensland, passed away in 2009, months after McCullough played his first NRL match.

A former Australian representative, Connell was renowned for his humble and caring nature and softly-spoken ways.

It's true that it takes dozens of people to make a State of Origin player.

It's the volunteer junior trainers, the school coaches, confidants, and host families who give a push in the right direction.

Coming into the first game of the 2018 Holden State of Origin series, QRL Media asked each of the Maroons tonominate someone – outside their family – for a special mention.

The players' answers just go to show that you never know where your helping hand will lead.

And it reveals the stellar work that happens from the grassroots right through to the elite pathways doesn't go unnoticed by those who kick on in their career.

To view a selection of other players including Greg Inglis, Jai Arrow and Dylan Napa, click on this link.