All Star's pledge to prove doubters wrong
He's heard the sniggers regarding his World All Stars call-up but Broncos winger Lachlan Maranta is determined not to disappoint the man he has known since birth, coach Wayne Bennett.
When it was discovered that Brisbane half Ben Hunt was ineligible for All Stars selection due to the suspension he incurred following the 2015 Grand Final, Bennett went back to the complicated criteria that is World All Stars selection looking for a solution.
As his lone Broncos representative he decided to name Maranta, a 23-year-old who failed to make Brisbane's grand final team and whose grandfather, Barry Maranta, was one of the co-founders of the Broncos.
Coming off the most fruitful of his four years in the NRL to date where he scored 15 tries in 20 appearances, Maranta said the return of Bennett in 2015 both intimidated and excited him and has vowed to prove any doubters wrong when he faces the Indigenous All Stars at Suncorp Stadium on February 13.
"We've got that tie from before football but now that he's the [Broncos] coach I find myself just not wanting to let him down and that's the same with the All Stars," Maranta told NRL.com.
"Obviously there's been a bit of backlash that I got picked but I've grown to get used to that and not worry about it.
"My main goal is to not let him down and myself down. Repay the faith I guess."
Admitting that he will be in awe spending a week alongside the players the calibre of Cameron Smith, Paul Gallen, James Graham and Sam Burgess, such was his own surprise at his selection that Maranta refused to believe Bennett at first.
Hoping he wasn't about to incur the wrath of the master coach, Maranta sent a member of the Broncos' conditioning staff over to Bennett before the coach made it clear that it was in fact him with whom he wanted to speak to.
"I ran over there and my first instinct was, What have I done wrong?, thinking I was in trouble and then he said, 'I'm going to play you in the All Stars,'" Maranta recalled.
"I thought it was a joke and didn't take him too seriously and then he said he was serious. So I went back to do my warm-up and still was a bit unsure whether it was true. I turned to Darius [Boyd] and said, 'Wayne just told me I'm in the All Stars. Surely that's a gee up!'
"I went up to him after training and he said he needed an outside back and I can play all three positions so he thought I would be good for that versatility and for the experience.
"The players I'll be training with and playing against are the top players in the league so obviously it's going to be good for me and I'm still young enough to take their habits and the way they train and try and copy them and better myself."
When it was announced at the end of the 2014 season that Bennett would be returning to Red Hill in 2015 Maranta was one of the few players to receive a phone call from the man himself and the message was simple: 'I guess I finally get to coach you.'
"When I heard those words there was something inside me like a warm feeling but I was definitely intimidated by him," said Maranta, who used to catch the bus from school to where his mother, Robyn, worked at Broncos HQ, his earliest memories of meeting Bennett.
"He instilled a lot of confidence in me and made some early calls, putting me in some games at the start of the year and then he played me at fullback which said to me that he obviously trusted me and knew that I'd do the job for him.
"That obviously filled me up with the confidence that I needed."