Being a Queenslander is probably one of biggest honours and greatest feelings in the world. Obviously, getting to put that Queensland jersey on and represent past players who have been there and built the history… it’s such a good feeling.
That whole week of camp is such a buzz and a high. It’s just such a great feeling to be in there with other Queenslanders and other great players.
To have Kevie as coach, guys like Petero and Hodgo around, you reminisce on the old times, past games, experiences, highlights. It’s really hard to describe, but the emotion is so high the whole way through the camp and leading into that game. It’s honestly the greatest experience that I have been a part of and been able to witness.
My dad, my uncles, they all played football. I think four days after I was born, mum took me down and I was sitting on the sideline while dad was playing footy.
I was always the young kid that was that little bit bigger than everyone else, so I was playing a year up probably until under 13s, 14s. I’d go and train at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and then dad was coaching or captain, so I was always around footy. I’d go down and train with them and I was always the fullback for the other team, where they’d kick the ball down and I’d get it and run back into them.
I just lived and breathed footy. There was nothing else that was good enough for me. I just loved footy. And always wanted to be part of it.
I started at Runaway Bay Seagulls on the Gold Coast when I was four and played there until I was about 13, 14. And now I am still playing.
State of Origin at home as a kid was all time. We watched every game. Actually in saying that I probably don’t remember too many of them because I just remember me and my brothers always playing footy and just smashing each other, wanting to play after watching guys like Petero and Shane Webcke. We were always playing our own footy on the floor. I think that was always the greatest memories.
I think when Origin was on, it was the only night of the week we were allowed to stay up past school bed time because Queensland was playing. Great memories.
My first call up, it was a very emotional week. I remember Game I 2017 I was 18th man. I got a taste of the camp and taste of being around the boys, but I didn’t get the chance to play. But going into Game II we played the Warriors at Cbus the Saturday I think and I had been put on report for a shoulder charge.
I got a phone from Kevie saying ‘hey mate, I just want to let you know if you get off your charge you’ll play Origin this week… if not, you can come back into camp but obviously you won’t be able to play’.
I just remember that hot, sweaty feeling. I was in the worst mood. But also in the happiest mood ever. I remember looking at my dad just going ‘what’s going to happen?’
Going into camp on the Monday, seeing Kev, and them going ‘we’ll fly down, do the judiciary and see how we go’. I just remember that whole hour of being in Sydney, judiciary. I thought ‘for sure, I’m not getting off’. I just had all the worst things running through my head and then when they announced I got off my charge.. I was just so emotional. I remember getting so emotional. All teary thinking ‘my childhood dream is going to happen this week’. It was just the best feeling ever.
Pulling on the jersey for the first time was something else. Every little boy wants to put that jersey on but as soon as I got that opportunity, to put in on and remember the guys who had worn that jersey before me, the emotion running through me was something else.
I remember running out at ANZ, standing on the field, standing there for the national anthem just crying. The emotion running through my body, looking up at my family in the grand stand when the Australian anthem was on, was just something else.
That feeling when we ran out, and there was just thousands of New South Wales fans booing us, was something I will never forget. Then obviously getting to play in that game where JT kicked the goal from the sideline to make it 1-all… it was one of the greatest games I’ll ever be part of.
Obviously for me, 2017 Game II was one hundred per cent a highlight. Getting to debut with guys like Cam Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston. The way we won, the way we played. I think they took the lead and we fought back. It was such a massive game to be part of. It’s something I’ll always remember. To have my family there to witness that, some of the highlights of that game, which will probably go down in Origin history, to say I was part of that game was unbelievable.
But coming back as well, Game III decider in Queensland. There is nothing like it… 52,500 fans absolutely on the edge of their seats screaming. You run out and to win that game there and hold the shield up was something else.
Running out at Suncorp Stadium is 100 per cent unreal. Game II I think we played in front of 95,000 or something at ANZ… the boos we got were unbelievable and I thought that was probably going to be one of the loudest crowds to play in front of ever. But as soon as you get out there at Suncorp, nothing beats that. You feel like everyone is standing on the field with you.
The passion Queenslanders have is something else. And to run out to them and represent Queensland, and the fans of Queensland…. nothing will ever beat that. It gives me goosebumps thinking about it. It’s just unbelievable.
Game III in that decider, I was lucky enough for Cam Munster to work his magic and throw an inside ball and it bounced up to me and I just happened to be there to pick up and score a try. I just remember looking up into the crowd, and the boys jumping on me, and everyone was just going off.
Walking back, getting ready for kick off, everyone was going crazy. The chants, the screaming, the atmosphere… it was unbelievable.
Like I said, Queenslanders - you are something else. You all love and breathe Queensland. That Maroons jersey.
Obviously getting to go to outback Queensland during camps for fan days, there’s always so much support for us, and it’s always great to be able to interact and show our thanks for all of the support, for being there when we need you the most.
I think there’s never just one moment in Origin that you love. You get in there and you cherish every moment with the players, with the coaches. It’s just an experience players never forget. I know I will be forever grateful to have been able to pull that Maroons jersey on.
When it comes to team mates, I always enjoy being around Big Papa. Big Joshi Papalii. He’s an absolute legend. One of the nicest, gentlest blokes you’d ever meet off the field. He genuinely cares about everyone. He’s everyone’s friend. Big, gentle giant. But then you get him on the field and he’s just an absolute weapon. A true Queenslander. I think he’s definitely the one who when you get into camp, puts a smile on your face. You enjoy being around him. He’s definitely one of the best guys to hang around with and be around in camp.
Then there’s Josh McGuire… he’s always pulling pranks on everyone. Mucking around and making jokes about you. That’s what makes the camps so fun… guys like Josh who make it enjoyable, fun. You have a great time. Everyone’s the best of friends in there, getting ready for one job. To beat New South Wales and bring the shield home.
I’d love to be back in that Queensland jersey, for sure. At the moment I’m just trying to play some good footy at the Titans and get us into some form. Because that’s the only way Kevie and the selectors will look at you. If you perform at your club, that’s when they want you to come and represent Queensland. They want to make sure you’re ready to go, ready to rip in for that Queensland jersey.
There’s a lot of great players around at the moment who are playing some great footy, but at the end of the day Kevie will pick that top 18 that he thinks will do the right job. If you’re playing good football at your club and make sure you’re doing everything right there, that’s the way to get into that Queensland jersey for sure.
The future is always going to be bright with Queensland. Let’s be honest, the last two years we’ve just been pipped at the post. To lose down there in Game III last year on a freakish try by Tedesco. Even the year before that, to get pipped at the post. You know Queensland is never going to give up and never going to be easy beats or rollovers. I know the last two years Kevie has been building something real special. We’ve got a great spine with Cherry-Evans, Munster. They’re building something really good so I reckon 2020… look out for us.
Queenslanders, thank you for the diehard support. For always being there for the Queenslanders and having that spirit. For having maroon blood running through your veins. Because when it’s getting tough out there on the field, and you hear Queensland supporters absolutely raring and bringing that atmosphere…. sometimes that’s the little bit players need to make that tackle or make that hard run. It’s gets the players home. It’s the best. It makes us players want to wear that jersey and play hard every time we put in on.