Just under three years ago, the NSW Under-18s Origin team demolished Queensland 26-0 in their own backyard at Suncorp Stadium.
The captain of that team was Cameron Murray. In the centres was Nick Cotric. Payne Haas came off the bench. They were coached by Brad Fittler.
Last year, Murray described that particular representative team as the best he’s ever played in.
In what is a true indication of the NSW Pathways Program’s ability to assist with player progression, then-coach Brad Fittler will blood Murray, Cotric and Haas in State of Origin next week at the same ground.
“It’s pretty cool playing with them in the 18s camp, we played together in the 15s too,” Cotric said to NSWRL.com.au.
“Payne Haas was the same size back then as he is now.
“[The Pathways] is definitely important because you get your combinations sorted back then and you get to find out what Origin is all about, they bleed you into it.
“I’m happy for those boys too, they’ve been working hard.”
While Fittler’s certain philosophies and techniques were only brought to light last year, they are nothing new for Cotric.
“It brings all of the boys together,” said Cotric.
“These days everyone is all about their phones looking down, it’s good to actually get out and talk to the boys.
“[Fittler] is a good coach, he’s pretty chilled back but at the same time he’s down and gritty.
“You can have a chat with him, he’s open for chats but you can have a little bit of a laugh around him when he’s not too serious.”
Cotric will be achieving his life-long dream when he lines up on the right wing for NSW next week.
He was recovering from the Raiders v Cowboys game when he received what would be one of the best phone calls of his life.
“I was actually at home I just finished the game and I was chilling out icing up just watching some TV and I picked up and I was just like wow,” Cotric said.
“I called my mum and dad straight away, they were out to dinner but they were that happy, so proud and I think a tear was shed.
“It was good to give them a big hug, to see your dad happy and proud I got a bit emotional too, it was a good feeling.”
Cotric got a taste of State of Origin last year when he was named on the extended squad and spent some time in camp.
Now, he gets to do it for real.
“It was a good experiencing being in and amongst it seeing what Origin is really about but at the same time you want to be out there playing,” he said.
“It was good, I took a lot out of that camp. I got to experience what Origin was really about and had a fun week.
“I cant wait to get out there and just rip in for the boys.”