My earliest memory of rugby league would be watching my dad play at Salters Oval in Bundaberg. I guess that’s where it started and where I fell in love with rugby league.
I suppose it really kick-started, though, when we moved to Mount Isa. They are mad out there for their rugby league and my dad was the president of the club and mum was always working in the canteen, so it was sort of a rugby league obsessed upbringing.
We loved State of Origin. Game night was a traditional pizza night in front of the TV... everyone wore their Maroons kit and screamed their heads off, so pretty stock standard.
In the Origin arena, I looked up to Petero Civoniceva. I used to get hyped up for his kick-off runs because I remember he used to run as hard as he possibly could and he’d turn his shoulder in and there would always be Blues flying the other way... so that I probably my best memory.
When I first found out I was going to play Origin, it was Kevie who told me. I can’t remember it exactly, but I think I was in Darwin... it was after the Darwin game I found out and I think I ran into him at the hotel and that’s how I initially found out.
But I can remember being a young fella... I had only played 20 or 30 games, so it was really surreal. It was something I certainly didn’t imagine being in the position of that early in my NRL career.
On my I first day of camp, I was extremely nervous, just because of the calibre of players there. I remember Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk... I was lucky enough to play with JT, so I was pretty familiar with him, but Billy Slater and GI.
I was a 19-year-old kid and I was second guessing myself... I was wondering why I was here. But as soon as I walked in, they were extremely welcoming, and that just made me respect them a lot more.
The game was at Suncorp, it was the game where the Blues had won Game I, and Johnno did that mad kick from the sideline to put us ahead, so it was pretty cool.
You always hear about everyone hyping it up and the atmosphere and whatnot... it’s something you can’t really describe when you are feeling it for yourself.
Running out, you just see maroon, the roar of the crowd... it’s hard to put into words. The feeling you get running out... if you could bottle it up and sell it, you would be a billionaire.
Origin is full of moments and they are all special – every moment. Every camp is unique. It is just awesome... it is always just a great bunch of blokes and everyone just enjoys each other’s company.
What I enjoy most is probably just day one of camp... walking in and seeing all the faces again and all the smiles, saying hello to everyone again, just reconnecting with the group... they are probably my most special times.
Pulling on the Maroons jersey, it means everything; just playing rugby league growing up, I can remember myself, when I used to look up to the Maroons, so to have that feeling of ‘oh, that’s me now’ and that’s us as a playing group... inspiring the next generation... I think that’s what it is all about.
That’s how rugby league continues to flow on and that’s why Queenslanders just have so much pride in the jersey, because you understand – that’s the position you were in, you were like those young kids once upon a time and to inspire them to get to where we are now... I think that’s probably the best thing about being a Queenslander.
It’s something that you don’t take lightly, I take pride in it.
I understand how special it is for kids in the country too. Coming from Mount Isa especially as well, if one NRL player used to come out there, you used to just love them and it didn’t matter who they were or what team they played for, you were just in awe of them. I can remember myself being in that position and to think that that is me now is pretty special.
If I had a message to share with Queenslanders, it would just be thank you… obviously not all the games go the way you want and you don’t always perform the way you want to perform… but you can count on Queenslanders to come out and show their colours and get behind their team.
We do it for the people of Queensland, that’s the biggest reward... getting the win for everyone else, so they can go to work the next day proud and give it to their mates who support the Blues.
A massive thank you Queenslanders. Thank you to everyone who supports us.