He’s experienced a host of team changes around him, but Josh Jackson has remained a rare constant since making his Origin debut in 2015.
With major alterations to the starting second row, centre and halves combinations, the Mudgee Dragons junior has had to be at his versatile best so far in his representative career – and there’s little doubt that he has been.
“It was a little bit different for me last year, because I started the first game as a lock,” Jackson told NSWRL.com.au. “It was completely different role for the second two games, coming off the bench – so playing in the middle and off the edge as well.
“This series I’ve known exactly where I’m going to be playing for the 80 minutes, which has made it a lot easier for me.”
Playing a similar role every other week in the Telstra Premiership, it comes as little shock that the Bulldogs workhorse has played for 150 minutes and 81 tackles so far this series – the third-highest tally behind hookers Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah. Given the transformation of the NSW VB Blues since Jackson’s debut in Origin I last year, however, his consistency has been particularly impressive.
In addition to a constantly-changing second row, Jackson’s sixth Origin camp has seen him train alongside a third halfback, a third fullback and a fourth right centre. Despite having little time to develop these vital combinations, however, the 25-year-old takes the changes in his stride.
“Maybe the centre role changing on that right side made it a little bit different,” Jackson conceded. “But that’s what we go in to camp for. That’s what we train for a week and a half before the game for, to build those combinations and to work on them together.”
With the impending representative retirement of skipper Paul Gallen, the question has been posed about who can best lead the VB Blues into a new era of State of Origin success. Jackson is as worthy as any for the role – but, for the time being, he’s thankful for the opportunity to play for his state and deliver a win for the outgoing captain.
“We spoke about how we wanted to do it not only for ourselves and for the state, but if for anyone Paul Gallen, who’s given more to NSW in the last 10 years than most other people,” Jackson said. “He’s a very passionate guy; he doesn’t say a lot, but he leads by his actions.”
It’s little wonder, then, why Jackson is so full of praise for Gallen. Just like his captain, Jackson doesn’t say a lot – and just like his captain, he leads by his actions. So far in his NRL and representative career, the defensive weapon has developed a knack of staying out of the media spotlight – something he’s hoping will continue.
“Yeah, happy for that to happen,” Jackson laughed. “That’s the way I am, I’m a pretty private person. I’m happy to do whatever job that I need to in the team.
“As long as I’m going out there and I’m doing that to the best of my ability – and my team mates think that I’ve completed that role – then I’m happy at the end of the day.”
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