There’s an oval near John and Melissa Trbojevic’s house on Sydney's northern beaches where Jake and Tom would argue over who was going to be Andrew Johns when they played footy with their mates.
Now the Trbojevic brothers are set to play their first representative match together for NSW in next Wednesday night’s Holden State of Origin opener at the MCG and Johns is on the Blues coaching staff.
“It is pretty cool that he is in camp,” Jake said. “You can see how smart he is. He has still got it, I think he could still play.”
Regarded as one of the most skilful middle forwards in the NRL, Jake had ambitions of being a playmaker and Johns was his hero.
He even had a jersey with the Newcastle great’s name on the back.
“I used to love Joey, I had his jersey and wanted to be Andrew Johns but it didn’t work out that way unfortunately,” Jake said.
Tom also idolised Johns and as he is younger than Jake he usually got his way.
“I loved Andrew Johns, he was my favourite,” Tom said. “Jake was the same, but I would have cried if I wasn’t Joey so I would take it.
“I have been a Joey fan since 2001, I watched him in the grand final that year and during the lead-up. He was awesome.
“I remember State of Origin in 2005, how he came back in Games II and III and won us the series. That is probably one of my most memorable moments of watching footy when I was growing up.”
Jake, 24, and 21-year-old Tom recalled how they would come home from school on the day of an Origin match and wait to watch the game with their mum and dad and brothers, Luke and Ben.
“I remember back in 2005 when Joey put Danny Buderus over for a try, they are great mentors for us all and great coaches,” Jake said.
“It is pretty awesome the coaching staff we have got – Brad Fittler, Danny Buderus, Greg Alexander and Joey Johns. They are great players who have done it all in the game, they have played Origin and had great careers.”
The brothers were with their parents when they learned of their selection for the Blues, as they were when chosen in the Australian team for last year’s World Cup.
Tom, who will make his Origin debut on the right wing, received the first call from Fittler and handed the phone over to Jake.
"We always hang together, so it worked out really well," Jake said. "Everyone was really happy and excited.
"To be in the Blues is really special and to do it with your brother is even better.
“It will be a big moment for our family, they love us playing together so to do it for NSW is going to be pretty special.”
Until Tom’s NRL debut for Manly in 2015, the brothers had never played together except in the backyard.
“There is a big oval out the front of our place and we were always out there with our mates,” Jake said. “It was pretty competitive so there were a few fights and that sort of thing.”
Jake and Tom paid tribute to their mum and dad, who are life members of the Mona Vale Raiders Junior Rugby League Club.
“They are the ones who drove us to training from five years old until we were 16 or 17, they are at all our games and they will be down at the MCG cheering us on,” Tom said. “They are very proud parents and they love their footy.”
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