Josh Hannay might have only featured in two Origin games in the early 2000's but it's behind the scenes that he's making his biggest impact for the future of the Queensland rugby league.
Transitioning into coaching after his playing days were over, Hannay was appointed to take the reins of the Maroons' under-18's sides in 2016 and 2017 – there mentoring the nucleus of this year's series-winning squad in Pat Carrigan, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Murray Taulagi, Tom Gilbert, Corey Horsburgh and J'maine Hopgood.
He's seen firsthand that seeds of Origin success aren't planed in camp – where players have limited time to connect – but are rather forged in the junior ranks, where players get a solid grounding in the fundamentals of what it means to represent their state and play for the jersey.
That rings especially true of the players who featured notably in his junior sides from those two years and have emerged out the other side as household names across Queensland and beyond, despite their initial lack of success.
“I remember we got hammered in both those games," Hannay recalled.
"New South Wales were too good for us, they were unbelievable. But it's not just about that game, right? It's about the future and it's about this development arm that we have here. And even though we might not have won on those occasions, we’re seeing the fruits of it now.
“That's what it's about and that's why we have those programs in place – to create and develop future Origin and stars.
"When there's that nurturing of those guys who are coming through together, you can see it in the way they play and how connected they are. You can see they're not a team that's been thrown together for a game of footy this year; there's a deeper connection than just being picked to play State of Origin this year.
“There's a comfort there with each other that they know each other. It's pretty cool and I'm really happy and proud of those boys to see where they are now.”
Hannay's impact has quickly extended beyond that core group – now influencing some of Queensland's greatest ever contributors as they transition from the playing field to the coaching box.
“We're not NRL coaches so he's had a really big impact on the way we go about it and the little subtleties and little structures in a coaching style,” Maroons coach Billy Slater said.
“He's been a big part of our defence on our edges, and that's a real strength of our game. He's created some principles in and around that, but it's not just the roles that they have focus on, it's everything.”
Brent Woolf was chosen as captain by Hannay in his first Under 18 campaign and caught up with his former coach as his Tweed Seagulls side took part in an opposed session against the Maroons in preparation for Origin III.
Woolf said more than recalling anything football-related Hannay had shared with the junior representative team, the players were instilled with Maroon pride.
“It would probably be just the same stuff he tries to teach these fellas. It's all about being harder than New South Wales, just working for each other and showing a little bit of grit,” the Seagulls hooker said in memory of Hannay.
“It is all about just working hard for each other and not wanting to let each other down. It was more on the team stuff rather than being classy [with your play].
"When you're a Queenslander, what you’re doing working with the team... that's what you'd rather do. You want to have somebody that's going to do their job for the team, not miss any of their jobs or miss any of the things they're supposed to do.
“It’s about the connection, that's it.”
“One thing we always have to maintain – because we don't have the depth of talent that New South Wales do – is that strength of connection," Hannay said.
"It's so important for us, and these programs are one way of creating connection. It doesn't have to be about club connections at an NRL level.
“We play with a certain spirit that we all know about and we're famous for and those programs ensure that that spirit lives on, because we're indoctrinating the Queensland legacy, culture and values at an early age. It's not always just about winning that game on that night; it's actually about a bigger picture.
“We often don't come out on the right side of the scoreline in those junior rep games, but ultimately, it's about developing these young men to understand what it means to be a Queenslander.
“It's about getting them to understand what it means to represent the jersey so that when they get to the elite level, these lads have their hearts full of pride for Queensland and the jersey."
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 3 -
Venue: Accor Stadium, Sydney