Deep thinking Queensland Under 17 Country forward Baden Robinson has shed light on the inspiration he is drawing from former North Queensland Cowboys forward John Manning as he navigates the next step in his career.
The 17-year-old lock/second-rower attends St Patrick's College in Mackay where Manning is an old boy. Manning, now 43, played 15 games for the Cowboys before having a successful career as an actor and broadcaster.
Baden said St Patrick's College embraced and stood for the values and ethos that Manning held dear.
"John Manning came down to see us at St Pat's this year and he has been a great role model for me for the past two years," Baden said.
"John played for the Cowboys and has a lot of really strong values about schoolboy rugby league and how much it means to play in that jersey.
"He has reinforced having loyalty to your team and playing with real commitment, and not to take playing rugby league for granted because it is not going to last forever. He has really instilled those values into me.
"This year at St Pat's we have really emphasised the importance of including our old boys and John is one of them."
It is no surprise that Baden is an admirer of the play of Melbourne Storm and Queensland Maroons forward Christian Welch.
Welch is highly regarded as one of the NRL's deep thinkers and all-round great guy. The 2020 premiership winner has also developed his game to the extent where he is one of Queensland's first picked in Origin and one of the game's leading props.
"I like his footwork and all his effort plays. Christian Welch keeps turning up," Baden said.
"It is the one-per-centers with him that appeals to me a lot. I would love to play with someone like him in my team."
Baden has come through representative teams and represented Queensland at under 15 level. He can't wait for the clash with City.
Match: QLD City v QLD Country
Round 1 -
Venue: Moreton Daily Stadium, Redcliffe
"It was definitely one of my goals at the start of the season, to have a crack at the City team," Baden said.
"I have played with a few of the Country fellas before. Obviously Brady Hazledine is from Mackay. I've played with Zack Lamont for Queensland and also with Tomas Powell. It is good to play alongside these top-level footballers that you don't always get the opportunity to play with."
'Having a bit of fun, learning a lot' - Tomas Powell
Baden is not signed to any NRL clubs at the moment but said he was ready to pursue an academic or professional career in league.
"It's definitely a bit of both. I'd love to play footy but if that doesn't work out I'd love to be a chiropractor," Baden said.
"That appeals to me because it is about helping people. That is just one strand. Sports appeal to me, not just rugby league.
"I love that team environment so if I can stay a part of that it would be good."
The City versus Country game will be attended by NRL scouts and player managers on the lookout for the next generation of stars.
QLD City v QLD Country - Under 17 Boys
"I have heard it is being streamed on Kayo so that may put the boys who aren't already signed out in front of people a lot more," Baden said.
"I have had a bit of interest from clubs when I made the 15s schoolboys team and managers every now and then that pop up."
Baden's uncle Peter Robinson was a halfback who played for the Redcliffe Dolphins and getting to watch close-up the NRL in Mackay recently has just increased his desire to play at the top level
"I went to three of the four games. Seeing some of those players so close makes you realise your goals are achievable," Baden said.