Young gun Cameron Bukowski is soaking up every experience that comes his way on his mission to one day don maroon.
The Wynnum Manly Seagulls Mal Meninga Cup hooker is part of Queensland Rugby League's Emerging Origin squad for the second year running and has been plying his trade with the Brisbane Broncos during pre-season.
Bukowski, fresh off an Emerging Origin camp, played for the Broncos in their pre-season clash with Wynnum Manly at the weekend.
"I've done the pre-season with the Broncos this year, so that's been really good for me, learning a lot of things from a lot of the older boys and just about the professionalism and what it takes to be an NRL player," Bukowski said.
"Hopefully start the year off in Mal Meninga and have a successful Mal Meninga campaign, play in the Queensland Under 19 team and then hopefully get some good Hostplus Cup time this year as well... that'd be ideal for me."
The 18-year-old, whose representative foray started with the Queensland Under 17 City team in 2022, said it would mean everything to him to one day represent the state in the State of Origin arena.
"It would mean everything... ever since I was a young boy, I always wanted to play for Queensland watching Darren Lockyer, Cam Smith... those guys running around," Bukowski said.
"It's something I've always wanted to do since I was a kid, so it would mean everything to pull on a maroon jersey.
"Playing (City versus Country) was a great experience, learning a lot about what it means to play for Queensland and what it takes to play for Queensland."
Bukowski grew up with a fairly typical childhood in Queensland - playing cricket in summer and rugby league in winter.
Rugby league for him started at Easts Tigers in under 6s and he played there 10 years, ending with Cyril Connell Challenge, before moving to Wynnum Manly for Mal Meninga Cup.
"Played Wynnum Mal Meninga last year... we played pretty well," Bukowski said.
"Got to the semi-final and then got beaten pretty well by Redcliffe, who ended up winning it. That was a tough one to take."
The proud Villanova College old boy - a title shared by Maroons forward Christian Welch - said being part of Queensland statewide competitions pathway, as well as representative pathway, had him learning heaps; he added he was spurred to follow in the footsteps of Welch, who often dropped in on training at Villanova when he was a student there.
Bukowski said he enjoyed learning about the Maroons DNA and why it was important including "the togetherness and the culture that it takes to be in this team".
"I think that goes a massive way to why Queensland is so successful in rugby league, is because of how close and tight knit groups are when you come into camp," he said.
Bukowski, who is studying construction management at Queensland University of Technology, said he had learned heaps from Pat Carrigan, Billy Walters and Tyson Smoothy at the Broncos.
"They've all been really helpful," Bukowski said.
"(Wynnum Manly Cup coach) Mat Head has helped me a lot too... he's really good. I've done a bit of training with them, so he's been really helpful for me. He really cares about his players.
"I'm keen for everything to kick off."
QRL pathways and performance head coach Nathan Cross said Bukowski was "a great young prospect who is extremely likeable and coachable".
"He has an excellent dummy half pass and is a real student of the game who is constantly looking to improve," Cross said.
"Cam has arguably been the best No.9 in Queensland in this age group for a while, but he has stiff competition now which I know will keep him striving to be better."
Watch this space.