State of Origin history shows that heroes are created in unlikely circumstances.
The Origin arena has set the stage for several unforgettable debuts for the NSW Blues throughout Origin history.
Who could ever forget Michael O’Connor who scored two tries and kicked five goals on debut in Game I of the Blues’ first Origin series victory in 1985?
Or how about Brett Finch’s fairytale as he kicked the winning field goal in Game I in 2006 as well as crossing for a try and setting up another two as the man nobody wanted as NSW Blues halfback?
Enter 24-year-old Josh Jackson who makes his well-earned debut tomorrow night after a whirlwind year in 2014. Jackson received a second call up to the Country side in the annual City-Country clash before spearheading the Bulldogs to an unlikely Grand Final appearance, which was capped off with his first Australian Kangaroos jumper.
“I definitely didn’t (expect it to all come so quickly),” Jackson said. “In 2012, I just wanted to get that first grade appearance and the following year I played for Country in the City-Country game which at the time was a massive thing for myself.
“You don’t expect these things but you’re very happy when they come along.
“I’m definitely very appreciative for my opportunities. Not many players get to play first grade at all let alone for NSW and their country. I’m definitely very appreciative for the opportunities I’ve been given.”
It’s all happened unexpectedly quickly but it’s unquestionably thoroughly deserved for the Bulldogs second-rower who has worked extensively to progress through the developmental stages in his rugby league career.
Jackson moved from Newcastle to join the Bulldogs Under-20s side in 2010 and stepped into the Bulldogs VB NSW Cup side in 2012.
“It was another stepping stone in my development,” Jackson said. “It was really good because coming out of the Under-20s, stepping into that competition you get to experience the physicality. Under-20s isn’t as physical as the VB NSW Cup. It was good for my development and I was very lucky to experience that.”
Jackson played 14 games before making his first grade debut against the Melbourne Storm in Round 16 and has been a revelation since as he continues to grow from strength to strength.
“It’s a credit to the players and the VB NSW Cup competition,” Jackson said. “Obviously, it’s a well-proven path for the development of NRL players. Sometimes players step straight from Under 20s to first grade but it’s good for the game and good for the player development through the NSW Cup.”
The stage is certainly set for Jackson to write his own chapter into Origin folklore tomorrow night as he leads the NSW VB Blues against fierce arch-rivals, the Queensland Maroons at ANZ Stadium.
Be sure you’re part of history tomorrow night and get behind the NSW VB Blues.
Answer the call and get behind the NSW VB Blues when they take on Queensland in this year’s Holden State of Origin. The only Origin match in Sydney this year is played on May 27. There’s no better way to support the Blues than being a part of the Blatchys Blues crowd - join the Official NSW VB Blues supporter bays for Origin I here.