When the softly-spoken Jake Trbojevic entered NSW VB Blues camp last Monday, he could easily have been thrown into a largely unfamiliar team environment – but a familiar face has helped him quickly adjust in the lead-up to his Origin debut.
Trbojevic, who will make his first senior appearance for his state on Wednesday night, already has an impressive representative record to speak of: two games for NSW Under-18s, two games for the Australian Schoolboys, two games for NSW Under-20s, one game for the Junior Kangaroos and two games for the senior Kangaroos, winning all but two of those clashes. In six of those nine appearances, Trbojevic has lined up alongside VB Blues firebrand David Klemmer – and the history between the pair has helped the young Manly forward.
“We played Under-18s and Under-20s Origin and school footy together, so it’s pretty exciting that we're playing in Origin together,” Trbojevic tells NSWRL.com.au. “I’m looking forward to it and playing alongside him – he’s a good player.”
Into his third full season of NRL, Trbojevic’s selection in the 2017 Holden State of Origin series was one which was widely applauded by fans, following a long run of impressive form for the Sea Eagles - and more recently, two try-scoring performances for the Kangaroos. His progress had been closely followed throughout the NSWRL Pathways system and the 23-year-old always had his sights set on the big stage.
“It’s always the dream to [play Origin]; it’s pretty surreal and a proud moment for myself and my family,” Trbojevic says. “I’m really looking forward to Wednesday night.”
Klemmer, who will sit alongside Trbojevic on a high-impact NSW bench in the series opener, was quick to sing his praises.
“We’ve played together for a while and it's really special,” Klemmer says. “He deserves his spot; he’s been playing unbelievably and he’ll have no dramas playing in Origin.
“He’s an Origin player.”
It’s still anyone’s guess who will take the field first on Wednesday night, with NSW True Blue Steve ‘Blocker’ Roach already explaining that it will depend on the situation of the game. After a successful rise through the grades together, however, two of the state’s finest forwards will be sure to do the sky blue jersey proud.