Pritchard knocks back possible Four Nations shot
NSW under-20s Origin hooker Kaysa Pritchard has revealed he passed up an opportunity for a possible Four Nations berth at the end of the year to play in Saturday night's curtain-raiser for the Blues.
The Parramatta rake was informed by Samoa coach Matt Parish last Friday that he would be chosen for this weekend's Test against Fiji.
But one day later, club officials told Pritchard of his selection in the annual -20s Origin game, leaving him with a difficult decision – and just 24 hours to decide.
"I spoke with my parents and they just said to do what I wanted to do and to follow my heart. I picked Origin obviously, and they were sweet with it," Pritchard told NRL.com.
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Pritchard, who turns 20 on Monday, is the younger brother of New Zealand international Frank, and both are of Samoan descent. But the opportunity to pursue a boyhood dream of playing Origin was too good to refuse.
"It's my goal. I grew up here in Australia. I love NSW. I love watching them play. I watched this game last year and I knew I wanted to be a part of it," he said.
"Matty told me on Friday that I got picked and then I got told by the club that I made it after the game on Saturday. So I had one day to make the decision. I said I wanted to play Origin."
Pritchard made his first-grade debut under former Eels coach Ricky Stuart – and then-assistant Parish – back in Round 8 last season, playing a total of five games off the bench.
The acquisition of Nathan Peats has meant Pritchard has yet to appear in first grade this season, but the Cabramatta junior said he has learnt more this year under the tutelage of the NSW Origin candidate.
"I hope he gets picked. He deserves it. He's playing like a soldier in his first couple of games," Pritchard said.
"Even last week, he had a bad ankle, was supposed to be out for two weeks. He was one of the best players on the field. He's been massive for our side.
"Just his aura, what he brings to the team, what he brings to training... he's just a good player. I knew that him coming to the team would change the culture, but not as much as he's done. It's a credit to him."
For the under-20s Blues Pritchard will team up with gun five-eighth Mitchell Moses, who says he has a personal score to settle opposition No. 6 and Queensland drawcard Anthony Milford.
"In the semi-final at SG Ball between Canberra and Balmain, they beat us by about 40. He tore us apart. He scored about three tries in that game," Moses said.
"He's a champion player. You see in first grade how he goes about himself. He's hard to catch," Moses said.
"I versed him a couple of times in the lower grades and I love coming up against him – it's just a big challenge. You always want to play against the best, and I think he's the best in my age group."
Moses will be without Tigers teammate Luke Brooks, who was pulled out from the game on camp eve. The nephew of Blues great Ben Elias said he had learnt a lot from watching his good mate deal with the pressure of the NRL spotlight.
"I'm with him most of the time so I've gotten a feel of how he goes about his business," he said.
"He's a level-headed kid. He's a tough kid. He'll cop anything. He doesn't really look too much into the media when they talk about it.
"He's really handled himself well in first grade from the first game that they played this year, he had a lot of pressure on him. He's picked up his defence that much it's not funny."
NSW will be aiming to win the third straight game in the -20s Origin clash, having won the first two games since its inception in 2012.