If there’s one man who understands and appreciates what the under-20s State of Origin concept is all about, it’s NSW coach Dean Pay.
A 10-time Australian Kangaroos Test rep and 12-time NSW Blue, Pay has been at the helm of the under-20s stars of tomorrow since the concept began – and, remarkably, he and his team enjoy an unbroken record since the beginning in 2012.
“We haven’t been beat yet,” Pay tells NSWRL.com.au
“The first year we started with Boyd Cordner and Alex McKinnon and we’ve had Michael Lichaa, Dave Klemmer and Kane Evans come through – they set the standard early on and the rest of the boys have continued it on from year to year.
“It’s been a good transition for kids who are a year younger and play one year and come in again the following year, knowing what to expect from me and the staff and what it’s all about.
“They drive all what we try to instil in them.”
An NRL coach in waiting and currently helping the Raiders' NRL side in the nation's capital, Pay believes the under-20s Origin concept provides opportunities for everyone involved.
“I’m really happy in Canberra being assistant to Rick [Stuart] and we’re starting to get a bit of a roster there now,” Pay says.
“It’s exciting in Canberra and the boys are doing a really good job… but if there are opportunities down the track I’ll have a look at them as they come up but I’m really enjoying my time down there at the moment.
“I really enjoy doing this job as NSW under-20s coach, they’re a great bunch of kids – young men actually – who come in each year. It’s good to get to know them and they get to know you and what you’re about and I suppose there’s a bit of myself in the way these young guys play. It’s really satisfying to see the guys play the way they do.
“Hopefully we get a lot of support from the people of New South Wales – we’ll be going out there and doing the best we possibly can.”
The NSW under-20s’ clash with Queensland will be live-streamed on NSWRL.com.au - kick-off at 5:30pm.