Inside Word: Dreaming of rep footy
It's only round three but the rep season is fast approaching.
Before a ball is kicked everyone has a fair idea of who they think will or won't be selected in our NSW Origin team this year. After two rounds we have seen some brilliant performances by some guys on the cusp of selection. A lot can happen between now and when our City/Country teams are chosen - injuries and form the two most obvious.
As a young player who is not established in these teams, these early rounds are so important for your chances of breaking in to this honoured arena. Playing in a winning team with some form on the board certainly helps and playing well individually is a must. Our selectors are always on the lookout for new talent to add to their squads as it is important to have a good mix of senior players and younger players. The younger brigade need to be blooded so that down the track they are the leaders of the team and have upheld the standards of those who gone before them. This is how the culture of your team stays alive and continues after a core of players retire and the next group come through.
It is exciting getting chosen to play a rep game. To be picked with the NRL's elite players is a great feeling and what you learn in camp is invaluable in your development as a player. To watch, listen and mimic the best players at training, how they prepare, how they handle different scenarios on the field, how professional and meticulous they are in their recovery and how they handle the media are things that you can't put a price on.
All young players would be dreaming of an opportunity to play with the Gallens, Pearces, Haynes of our game. It's an awesome time in your career and a time you never forget. I remember the first time I was chosen to play for Australia: to train alongside Andrew Johns, Brad Fittler, Gorden Tallis, Shane Webcke and Darren Lockyer for the first time was an amazing experience and one I will never forget.
The senior blokes in our rep teams would also be feeling the pinch. They too want their team to be in good form and playing well individually so they are picked again. This year we will see some new players emerge and I cannot wait for Origin to begin. We will have the team to beat Queensland this year and it all starts now. Our players will most probably talk down their chances and just focus on club footy but in the back of their minds they all dream of being part of such special games.
As for the competition, the "bounce back" theory proved itself in a few games over the weekend. The Sharks and Penrith were on the end of a lot of points in the first round, only to rebound with great wins on the weekend. This competition is so even - when our premiers are rolled by the team tipped by many to come in near the end, it is a big tick for our salary cap. The salary cap will always be a work in progress and always need adjusting, but few could argue that we don't have an even competition.
This week we see another fantastic round of games. My tipping has not improved so I may as well flip a coin!
My round three tips are: Rabbitohs, Titans, Panthers, Tigers, Warriors, Roosters, Eagles, Storm.
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