Brent Tate has scored nine tries in 11 Tests against the Kiwis but is realistic about his chances of playing on Friday night. Credit: Col Whelan. Copyright: NRL Photos
He'll peel oranges or play in the forwards on Friday if necessary but Brent Tate's call-up to the Kangaroos as 18th man has prompted a declaration that he is again available for State of Origin selection in 2014.
Having been overlooked for the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Origin Series, Tate has played in all six matches for Queensland in the past two years but had been weighing up whether to call time on a representative career that has included 26 Tests and 21 Origins.
But the withdrawal of Broncos forward Sam Thaiday and elevation of Matt Gillett for his Test debut, Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens was forced to go looking for a new 18th man for Friday night's Test against the Kiwis, and he chose the man who filled the same role at the World Cup Final last year.
It was an unexpected call-up for the 32-year-old and he took the moment to let Queensland selectors know that he wants to be part of the Maroons' attempt at a ninth straight Series win.
"Yes," was Tate's short response when asked by Cowboys TV whether he was available for Origin in 2014. "Again, it's something that I haven't really put too much thought into to be honest. I've just been concentrating so hard on getting our game right at the Cowboys and obviously when you're not travelling as great as we have been there's a lot of pressure to just get your own game right and that's been the sole focus.
"This is a nice reward and hopefully with Origin not too far away, to be getting picked in that would be nice."
Although he is realistic regarding his prospects of taking the field against the Kiwis, Tate insists he will do whatever duties are required and prepare in the exact same fashion as if he was a starting member of the side.
"Pretty excited about it. Definitely wasn't something that was on the radar with me anyway so to be thought of... It is 18th man so mightn't get a game but still to be there, I'll be stoked to be heading down there and you never know," he said.
"Obviously a lot of mates from the World Cup last year are still in that team and it's always an honour. It doesn't matter whether you're playing or not, it's still an Australian team and I'll be very proud to be going down there and representing the Cowboys, that's for sure.
"You don't know, you just never know, but I'll prepare like I'm going to be playing and if something comes along you'll be ready.
"It's an Australian team; you'd be happy to peel oranges for them. To be 18th man, it's exciting."
Having played in the centres in wins against England and Ireland in the 2013 World Cup, Tate was devastated to be overlooked for the final when Billy Slater recovered from a knee injury to assume his position at fullback and Jarryd Hayne was shifted into right centre.
It was mooted then that Tate was being considered as a bench option to cover a position in either the forwards or backs and it's obviously something Sheens took into consideration when naming his replacement 18th man on Monday.