"Surreal" Experience To Help Finucane
It was 11 o'clock on a Saturday night and his depleted side had just been outclassed on their home turf. Dale Finucane was still recovering from his 39 tackles at AAMI Park when he got the call.
"Surreal’s probably a good word to use," Finucane tells NSWRL.com.au. "To be here is really exciting for me and something I’m really proud of."
Finucane was informed that he would form part of the NSW VB Blues' squad for Origin III, which has been touted by many as one of the biggest deciders in history. Having long been labelled a 'dark horse' for Origin selection, his maiden invitation into camp is a significant one - and it was his parents who he told first.
"They were down in Melbourne for Parents Weekend - it’s an annual weekend where we bring our parents down to the game," Finucane explains. "They were really overwhelmed. Even if it was (to be in an extended squad) so obviously really excited.
"I’m still yet to tell a couple of people because it’s only quite fresh, but I’d say I’ll get a couple of calls today."
Hailing from Bega, in the state's south-east, Finucane is a proud country man who has now performed consistently for five full seasons in the NRL. Like so many players, pulling on the sky blue jersey has been a goal since childhood - and he's now closer than ever before.
"Obviously that’s the next goal," Finucane says. "Your first goal is obviously to play consistent NRL and then from there to play State of Origin and represent your country. To play consistent football and hopefully earn myself a spot in the NSW team eventually.
"To know that I’m sort of thereabouts and in the squad fills me with confidence."
As for the opposition on Wednesday night, Finucane knows them better than most - the Maroons' outfit is stacked with six Storm players, while no Melburnian has represented NSW since 2014. Shutting down an all-Melbourne spine, Finucane says, will be key to the VB Blues' chances.
"The fact that their entire spine is made up of Melbourne Storm players is an advantage for them because they know each other’s game, they play together every week," Finucane says. "Probably the key towards that is nullifying their forwards - I think if you can nullify to an extent their go-forward, you can probably take some of those guys out of the game a little bit.
"You need a little bit of momentum to be able to play off. In saying that, they’re really quality players and they can sniff an opportunity so you’ve really got to be mindful of them."
Finucane will accompany the team to Brisbane when they leave Kingscliff tomorrow, soaking in the experience and watching first-hand the VB Blues' bid for the Origin shield at Suncorp Stadium.