Maroons 20s vow to make amends
The Queensland under-20s are being given a crash course in Origin history as they attempt to win their interstate clash with New South Wales for the first time since the game's inception.
Since 2012 the game has been played on the representative weekend in April but the fourth incarnation of the under-20s Origin match moves to prime time on Wednesday night as the main curtain-raiser to the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.
Last year's 30-8 defeat was the third successive loss for the junior Maroons but coach Kurt Wrigley has surrounded them with Origin legends this week in order to get one back on the baby Blues.
Ashley Harrison, Chris McKenna and Josh Hannay are all part of Wrigley's coaching staff who said his first order of business was to inform his young charges as to the lack of success they have enjoyed since 2012.
"Yes we are; we are acutely aware," Wrigley said of their record. "The first chat I had to them we spoke about it.
"We've got two guys that were there last year as well and they spoke to the group about their experience so we're planning on that not happening again.
"In their career where they are now it's a massive game. We've had a few chats about what's coming and they know it's a big moment for them and not only them but their families and all their friends and people that have had much to do with their development."
As can often be the case in junior representative fixtures, emotions boiled over at Penrith last year with two players sin-binned and four others later placed on report.
With their promotion to rugby league's most watched arena in front of a capacity crowd at Suncorp Stadium, Wrigley said it was important to allow emotion to be part of their build-up but not distract them from their objective.
"Obviously they need that level head but they need to use the emotion," said Wrigley.
"We've already started to touch on preparing and not looking ahead or behind and staying in the moment and doing your job.
"In the end it will come down to one or two moments in a game, someone switches off or someone does some big effort and that will win the game.
"Some of them have played bigger games but this is pretty special, playing at Suncorp."
The Queensland under-20s were given a lesson in Origin preparation on Sunday afternoon when they ran opposite the senior squad, their primary assignment to test a Maroons defence that will need to be watertight by Wednesday.
Ashley Taylor's short kicking game forced his more senior opponents to scramble, Jayden Nikorima wasn't afraid to take the line on, big Coen Hess nudged his way through on the edges while Wests Tiger Marion Seve copped a heavy hit from Johnathan Thurston.
With 10 members of the Broncos under-20s squad in his team, Wrigley said it is more a matter of building team unity than combinations in the space of a few days.
"We're really lucky we've got 10 Broncos kids so not going to be really giving them too much technical footy stuff and game-plans because they have already got combinations," he said.
"It's more about getting them together and getting to know each other and trust each other.
"They're actually a lot bigger than what I thought. Jai Arrow, I thought he was early 90 kilos and he's 105 kilos or something.
"I'm just excited about working with these young guys, their attitude has been really good at training."