Brad Fittler picks players who want to be there and State of Origin is exactly where Cameron Murray wants to be.
He’s only had one full season in the NRL but Fittler has had his eye on Murray for much longer than that as he’s progressed through the NSW Pathways system since leaving school, always having been a standout.
When Fittler picked his preliminary State of Origin squad for 2019, only four players on the list of 32 hadn’t played for NSW or an International Test match. Murray was one of them.
He admits the selection was unexpected, but his attitude that has impressed so many good judges as he’s risen through the ranks shifted immediately. He wants to be there in 2019 and that all begins with South Sydney.
“I always saw myself playing Origin when I was a little kid,” Murray said to NSWRL.com.au.
“Knowing that it’s come a lot quicker than I thought it’d come, I need to adjust my mentality, I need to adjust my goals and I need to step it up and push myself to hopefully be in that Blue jumper as soon as possible.
“It’ll be a lifelong dream come true and I’ll be happy to buy into the culture that’s already been established last year, I’m honoured to already be around the boys.
“It’s a process of proving to myself that I’m good enough, it’s a process of playing as good a footy I can at club level.”
Given his lifelong love for the Rabbitohs, there will be no shortage of passion in the opening rounds of the season at club level that could ultimately win him that Blues jersey that he’s also so passionate to earn.
I always saw myself playing Origin when I was a little kid.Cameron Murray
He averaged just under 50 minutes a game last year, but that number could increase given the loss of Angus Crichton plus the simple fact that he’s now got a full season of NRL under his belt.
As he played more games he involved himself in more key moments and stepped up when his team needed him. The one-on-one strip in the dying moments of the Semi Final against the Dragons was something special.
On Good Friday he scored the match-winning try in the final two minutes to steal the game from the Bulldogs. Despite eventually losing in the opening week of the finals, he scored an imperative try in the 71st minute to put his team ahead against the Melbourne Storm.
Even though Fittler was aware of his talent and work ethic, it’s moments like those that has Murray in the picture for State of Origin in 2019.
“Freddy and the supporting staff saw something in my game last year and now I’m in an environment that I have to get used to and an environment that I can’t take for granted,” Murray said.
“I need to step up my game and make sure that this is the standard now and prove to myself that I’m good enough to be here.
“It’s a huge compliment to me and I’m really proud of being a part of it all but I think now moving forward I need to play as good as the players in the room and take what I learn from here.
“There’s a lot of concepts and ideas that Freddy has already spoken about that I haven’t really been a part of or heard before, I can take being picked in this squad as a driver and motivator for my personal game and see where it takes me this year.”
While Fittler is the coach, Danny Buderus will once again be the assistant.
They have both coached Murray in the past. Fittler for the NSW Under-18s in 2016 and Buderus in the NSW Under-20s in 2017.
Both of them made Murray the captain of their respective representative sides. He’s been backed by two Origin greats and with both of them with a say on selection, perhaps a State of Origin debut might be around the corner.