Moses Mbye may be a little bit older, and arguably a little bit wiser, but he had the same ‘first day of school’ nerves as his fellow new Queensland Maroons during his first day in camp.
Entrusted with the captaincy of his NRL club the Wests Tigers by new coach Michael Maguire at the start of the season, Mbye is well known for being a responsible figure who is a leader capable of guiding the way for young players.
However, in the new surroundings of the Queensland State of Origin set up, he admitted there was a lot to take in.
“It’s like going to primary school to high school isn’t it?” Mbye said.
“You go from being a captain and leader and jumping in with these guys.
"In our own right, I guess everyone has to lead and even here, we are setting examples and setting standards, so it’s about buying into the Queensland culture and applying yourself the best you can."
“It’s pretty surreal to be honest,” Mbye added about his selection.
“You are in the presence of some of the best players in the world, so it’s quite an experience and it’s something I am proud of and really looking forward to.
“It’s obviously a new experience for myself - it’s definitely an experience, it’s something I am looking forward to.
"It’s something I dreamt of, so it’s about embracing it now, and taking it all in.”
While a new name in the 17, he has been on the radar of Queensland for a number of years, representing the state in an Under 20 Origin and attending numerous Emerging Origin camps as he rose through the ranks in the NRL.
A multi-purpose player who has filled in the positions of halfback, five-eighth, centre and hooker and is currently excelling at fullback – his very versatility could have been seen as a liability, robbing him of the opportunity to cement a claim to a position.
However, Mbye can only see positives in his flexibility, as it helped him achieve his dream of a Origin berth.
“It can be a blessing or a curse – but I am standing here in a Maroons jersey, so it’s a blessing for myself,” Mbye said.
“I made a habit of being the second best in every position – so I guess a bit of versatility is good, and you get rewards off it like this, so it’s something I definitely wouldn’t change.”
He has many fond memories of where it all began at the Noosa Pirates – alongside another NRL star who is now also a captain of his club, the Sydney Roosters.
“There’s many memories, obviously Jake Friend and I are close and there’s some good memories of spending time playing backyard footy with this family and we’d always talk about playing NRL – let alone playing one game of NRL," Mbye said.
“He’s gone on to win two premierships and play for Australia and I have found myself in this jersey, and it’s something we can both be proud of.”