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There will be far more than pride on the line for Anthony Watmough when he runs onto Suncorp Stadium for New South Wales next Wednesday night.<br><br>The Manly forward has spent the past four seasons anxiously waiting for another opportunity in the sky blue jersey after a horror debut in 2005 saw him play just 27 minutes before being quickly discarded by selectors.<br><br>But after impressing two weeks ago as one of the few NSW forwards able to hold their head high at ANZ Stadium, Watmough has been handed a starting spot for Game Three and the chance to cement his standing as an Origin player of the future.<br><br>“If all goes well you’d like to think you will there for a long time,” Watmough told today.<br><br>“To be picked in the starting side is definitely a positive. <br><br>“I got plenty of game time last time that I was pretty happy with. <br><br>“Unfortunately for a few of the other guys they got injured which has opened the door for me but I need to grab the chance with both hands.<br><br>“I mean, there are always new people coming up and you’ve got to play at that level week-in, week-out but I think that’s what I’m starting to do now.”<br><br>Asked about his four-year exile, which included a surprise omission from the opening game of the series this year, Watmough admitted that he had begun to wonder if his representative days might be over before they had even begun.<br><br>“And it’s frustrating,” he said. <br><br>“Every year you don’t make the team it’s more and more disappointing. <br><br>“But the great thing about footy is that there are always second chances and I’ve been given one of those. <br><br>“From all reports I went alright in Game Two which is a positive for me and I’ve been given another chance for the next one.<br><br>“I don’t want to let the opportunity go.”<br><br>Still, the 25-year-old came close to blowing it all at the start of the season after an alcohol-fuelled clash with a club sponsor at the Sea Eagles’ now infamous season launch and the side’s early form – which saw them lose their opening four games and six of their first eight – threatened to derail any Origin hopes he might have held.<br><br>Watmough says there were other reasons, too. <br><br>“I don’t think you can just blame [what happened off the field],” he said. <br><br>“It wasn’t good by any means but we’re footy players and Des [Hasler] did a great job of hiding it from everyone. <br><br>“We just had to get used to playing footy again – and it’s a different game this year.<br><br>“You just tuck the ball under your arm and go. <br><br>“It’s a lot faster and it took the boys a while to get used to that.<br><br>“We had to get used to other teams playing a different style of footy against us, lifting and bringing it to us. <br><br>“I don’t think we handled that too well at the start but we’re definitely getting back to the way we used to play. <br><br>“We’re going forward and ripping in with our defence.”<br><br>Watmough said it was time the NSW forwards proved that they have what it takes to match the impressive Queenslanders when the two sides meet again in Brisbane next week.<br><br>“We’re going in there with all guns blazing,” he said. <br><br>“They’ve obviously won the series and four in a row but we don’t want to go down with three big losses. <br><br>“I think it’s a matter of pride for the whole state. <br><br>“We copped our sour pill last time but we’re definitely not going to go down 3-0.”
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