Frizell Happy To Go From Foe To Friend
If Tyson Frizell makes his maiden appearance for the Kangaroos on Saturday night it won't be the first time he has faced off against the Kiwis but he is far more prepared than his first foray into international footy.
Frizell is in contention for a bench spot in Mal Meninga's team along with the likes of Shannon Boyd, Matt Gillett and Boyd Cordner having starred for New South Wales in his two Origin appearances earlier this year.
Frizell, Cordner, Boyd, James Maloney and Josh Mansour are the only players who participated in this year's Country-City match in Tamworth to be included in Meninga's 24-man Four Nations squad with Mansour unavailable for Saturday night's Test in Perth as he is getting married.
Conceding that a Kangaroo call-up was not in the realms of what he believed was possible this season, Frizell recalled his introduction to international rugby league as a 20-year-old playing for Wales in the 2011 Four Nations series in England.
Handed a 42-4 thumping first up by the host country and then dispatched 36-0 by the Kiwis at Wembley Stadium, Frizell says he feels much more prepared now for what potentially awaits him this weekend.
"They weren't very good memories," Frizell said.
"It was a great experience at the time but being that age with minimum experience – I think I'd played one game in the NRL – and playing against the best of the best was pretty scary.
"Obviously it's been a while now and the longer I've gone in my career the more confident I've been and very lucky to be a part of this squad now."
Eighteenth man for NSW an incredible four times, Frizell only earned his maiden Origin jersey when Wade Graham was suspended for a high tackle on Johnathan Thurston in Cronulla's Monday night win over the Cowboys prior to Game Two.
Such was Frizell's impact that when Graham came into the side for Game Three the St George Illawarra back-rower was retained ahead of veteran Greg Bird but never imagined it would lead to a place in the Kangaroos squad.
"Origin was on the radar being 18th man previously and I was just pretty happy to play Origin," said the 25-year-old. "This team was something that I didn't really think was achievable for myself.
"On a personal note, playing Country was awesome for me and then getting lucky to get an opportunity in Origin and now being selected here is something that I didn't really think I would be able to do.
"Definitely a breakout season for myself on a personal note."
Frizell recently penned a three-year contract extension with the Dragons that will take him through until the end of the 2020 season and shapes as a key figure in Laurie Daley's NSW team for years to come.
With the 2017 Rugby League World Cup now only 12 months away Meninga himself has ushered in the next generation of Kangaroo representatives while leaving out the likes of Corey Parker and Paul Gallen.
Rather than picking up the mantle of those senior players who are no longer part of the squad, Frizell says that the seven debutants will bring their own motivation to the national team.
"We're in the green and gold jersey so you've always got a role to play and a role to fill playing in such a great team," he said.
"Representing your country you always want to be doing the best you can so I don't think we'll be doing it for those guys, I think we'll be doing it more for ourselves and the jersey."
This article first appeared on NRL.com