City Origin captain Ryan Hoffman believes that the annual fixture is a valid State of Origin trial. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos.
Veteran City Origin captain Ryan Hoffman is adamant this weekend's staging of the annual City v Country match in Dubbo will be a true Origin trial, pouring water on claims in recent years that it is anything but.
Heading into his seventh City Origin camp, the passionate 30-year-old Campbelltown Collegians junior defends the authenticity of the match – pointing to the fact NSW Origin coach Laurie Daley himself has said as much.
"It's been very well documented and been tossed around for quite a few years [that it isn't an Origin trial]. For me personally, I reckon it's a great encounter; any chance we get to take rugby league out to the bush is fantastic. They deserve to see first-grade rugby league," Hoffman told NRL.com.
"It's an Origin trial; Laurie has said that... he's been quite vocal about saying that so why wouldn't you want to be a part of it?"
While it would be foolish for the experienced Melbourne Storm back-rower to deny that a sky blue jersey isn't in the back of his mind, the eight-time NSW representative explained that the City v Country fixture is one that allows players to capitalise on the good things they've been doing in the NRL on a bigger stage.
"I suppose [NSW selection] in the back of everyone's mind that's there. This is what this game is a trial for. It's all about getting the things right you do for your club team. It's doing your role and doing your role well," Hoffman said.
"If you're going out there with the sole focus of impressing the State of Origin coach you're not going to be doing what got you selected for in the first place."
While City Origin will be an opportunity for the likes of young guns Matt Moylan, David Klemmer and Dylan Walker to get a taste of representative footy, Hoffman said that while a sky blue jumper may not be on the horizon for the rookies this year, it will nonetheless be a great opportunity.
"They're first-graders, and very good first-graders. It's an opportunity for them to enjoy, to experience what it's like... it's always quite a good atmosphere in the camps and on game day," Hoffman said.
"They'll be excited; they'll be excited to be amongst all these players just as much as I am."
While Hoffman is keen to see how his younger teammates travel on Sunday afternoon, he will be wary of his own form as he looks to secure a return to the Origin arena.
"I would've liked it more if we at the Melbourne Storm had a few more wins but I've been pretty happy with how I've been going so far," Hoffman continued.
"You can always improve so hopefully I can carry on all the good things I've been doing for Melbourne into Sunday."