Residents intent on upholding state pride
The countdown is well and truly on to State of Origin I on May 27 but Queensland Residents forward Daniel Beasley says there will be just as much feeling in their annual clash with the NSW Cup Representative team at Tapout Energy Stadium in Brisbane on Sunday.
Unfortunately due to the postponement of the Anzac Test on Friday night and subsequent shuffling of the schedule, the match featuring the best players from the respective second-tier competitions won't be seen live on Sunday, with Channel Nine to show a replay of the match at a later date.
The Queensland Residents team features 11 players currently contracted to NRL teams while for the NSW Cup team experienced first graders such as Nathan Gardner, Peter Mata'utia and Mitch Brown are joined by exciting youngsters Mitch Cornish, Danny Fualalo and Will Matthews.
It may lack the profile of the top-level Origin experience but Beasley says that the Maroon jersey holds great meaning no matter who and where you're playing.
"Personally, this game means a lot," Beasley said.
"Growing up as a kid you idolised State of Origin, it's the pinnacle of rugby league. This isn't the top flight Queensland versus New South Wales but the passion for your state when it comes to this game is massive.
"I played the Queensland 18s a couple of years ago before Origin and the feeling you get putting on that Maroon jersey in front of a home crowd is unbelievable.
"There is a lot of up and coming talent in the side, guys on the fringe of NRL and depending how they go this weekend could be pushing for spots come Origin time at their NRL clubs."
Beasley came through the Cowboys system and was a highly-regarded prospect who was ultimately unable to secure a full-time contract with an NRL squad.
Now in his third year of Intrust Super Cup, Beasley is captaining the table-topping Townsville Blackhawks and is in a much better position to contribute to an NRL roster if the opportunity arises.
Although the expectation of many under-20s players is that they will progress from the National Youth Competition into the NRL, Beasley said that all players would benefit from spending time in their respective state leagues.
"If the young fellas are pushing and are good enough to be playing with men, then playing in the Intrust Super Cup and the NSW Cup will prove themselves against men and their ability as young fellas," said the 23-year-old.
"Although 20s might still be seen as below the Intrust Super Cup and NSW Cup it's hard for young fellas. In their heads they feel as though they are within an NRL system and once they are out of a system they feel like they are on the outer again, which may not be the case.
"Especially playing in the forwards, it's a big ask to go from playing with boys to men. There comes a bit of maturity playing against men on a regular basis and more than anything the difference between the 20s system and Q-Cup is that it is more of a mental game.
"Teams are happy to grind out games and win 7-6 where 20s, there is a swing of momentum and with momentum comes points. The focus of the competition is attack and it's had a lot of flair and been a big part of that competition but the mental toughness and the attitude that comes with playing with men and the willingness to grind out games becomes a bit more evident in the Intrust Super Cup."
Beasley himself hasn't given up hope of achieving his dream of playing in the NRL but insists he won't be playing to impress possible suitors on Sunday.
"It means more to me to be playing for Queensland than to be getting exposure for future endeavours. I'm just happy to be putting on the jersey and playing with these boys," he said.
"At this point I'm concentrating on performing for the Blackhawks. I'm just looking to play week to week and play my best football. If something comes from that I'll look at it at that stage."