The NSW under-18s were privileged to have their jerseys presented by current Blues stars Aaron Woods, David Klemmer and Jake Trbojevic.
All three players represented NSW at a junior level as they rose through the ranks to the pinnacle, making the presentation all the more special for the current squad.
True Blue Brad Fittler – who is coaching the side – made a speech to the squad about what it means to don the sky blue jersey, and how the players should look to leave their own legacy behind.
“These two [Trbojevic and Klemmer] played a bit of footy together when they were younger in the NSW u-16s and u-18s,” Fittler said.
“They put in a lot of effort then, and then they got to play for Australia together, so it’s pretty special.
“All of them have been fantastic ambassadors for NSW; they rip in every time they play, and you can see by their club form as well they play exactly the same, every time they play it’s at one hundred miles per hour.”
While there are many factors to prepare for such a big game, Trbojevic believes the key for these young men is to simply enjoy themselves while they are on the field.
“You have got to enjoy yourself firstly, I have a lot of great memories from these camps and I met a lot of great people,” Trbojevic said.
“Enjoying yourself and taking the great opportunity tomorrow night against Queensland, it’s probably the first time a few [players] have played at ANZ Stadium, so it will be an awesome experience.”
Klemmer delivered a speech to the squad, encouraging them to buy into the Origin experience.
“This is the pinnacle for you, this is your representative side, you get picked for being the best of the best,” Klemmer told the young Blues.
“Get out there, run hard, and represent your families and friends really well, soak up the atmosphere of ANZ Stadium as well.”
Woods is now one of the most experienced players in the Blues, and he gave the players some advice on how Origin is a different beast to club footy, how to adapt, and what it’s like facing Queensland.
“It’s a different type of game, the ruck is a little bit different, you get a little bit more freedom in there,
“It’s not all about scoring fancy tries, its about the one per cent plays like your kick chase and kick pressure.”
While the players would certainly look up to Woods, he mentioned how one of his idols growing up was Mark ‘Ogre’ O’Meley, who is the development coach for the under-18s.
“I grew up watching big ‘Ogre’ in the middle, he was one of my favourites.”