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The gentle giant ready-made for Origin: Yeo

Westpac NSW Blues lock Isaah Yeo has recalled how the performance of gentle giant Stefano Utoikamanu in atrocious conditions in Bathurst earlier this season convinced him he was tailor-made for the Origin arena.

In driving rain at Bathurst’s Carrington Park on Saturday night in Round Nine, the NSW debutant played an explosive stint in the front row as the Wests Tigers recorded a memorable 12-8 win over Yeo’s Penrith Panthers.

“He’s just one of those freaks with really good leg speed through there (the middle) and he’s a really big man as well,” Yeo told

“Normally with a big body you aren’t very good laterally, but he certainly is.

“He deserves it (the NSW call-up).

“Not long ago we played the Tigers and he was really good for them.”

From just 34 minutes he produced 126 run metres with 51 post-contact and four tackle-busts, making 17 tackles with only one miss. 

Now Yeo is pleased to be lining up alongside him next week after not only that encounter, but many an opposed session in previous Blues camps.

“He’s still only young, he’s got so much in front of him and he’s about to be a NSW player, so I’m super pumped for him,” Yeo added.

"He’ll do a wonderful job."

Looking ahead to the task of a must-win Game Two at Suncorp Stadium, Yeo is firmly focused on embracing the challenge.

“It’s do or die, you’ve got to embrace the challenge and be excited by it,” he said.

“It’s a wonderful experience to go up there (to Brisbane), it’s so loud and everything State of Origin is about.”

“Enjoy the week, enjoy the process and once you get out there, just embrace it.”

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New South Wales Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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