McLean's second shot at Country nod
He declined the invitation to play for Country last year in order to attend the birth of his first child and 12 months on Storm prop Jordan McLean has no doubt that he made the right decision.
McLean has played in all nine of the Storm's games so far this season and been rewarded for his strong form with a maiden senior representative jersey, a place in Craig Fitzgibbon's Country team to face City in Tamworth on Sunday.
A product of the Young Cherry Pickers now in his fourth season in the top grade, McLean started Sunday's 38-0 rout of the Titans from the bench but was powerful when he came onto the field, running for 107 metres from 12 carries.
When the Storm travelled to the Gold Coast on Saturday he had to leave behind his son Archie on his first birthday and rather than return home to them flew to Sydney to go into the camp with the Country team.
Although he conceded turning down Trent Barrett's offer of a Country jersey last year was difficult McLean told NRL.com that he was very content with the decision that he made to skip the game in Wagga to be by his partner's side.
"I actually got picked last year but I had my little boy last year. He was one yesterday," McLean said.
"It was very tough but it's my first child so I think I made the right choice there.
"I missed out last year so very much looking forward to next weekend."
Now with 40 first grade games to his name, the 24-year-old says that Archie's arrival has added a greater perspective to his life.
"I've just matured and taken a bit of a different look on life," he said.
"It's not just about myself it's about my family now."
Storm captain Cameron Smith said post-match that the improved performances of the younger members of the squad were behind Melbourne's strong start to 2016 where they have just dropped two games heading into the Representative Round this weekend.
Smith said that he noticed a greater sense of responsibility in the younger players during the pre-season but McLean credited the presence of Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater – free of representative commitments – for making the youngsters more accountable.
"It was just good having those kind of fellas around in the pre-season," McLean said of the influence of the senior players.
"The accountability especially from them when they're going along and doing the hard work in pre-season meant that the younger boys had to follow or you're going to get a 'Bellyache' (Craig Bellamy) spray.
"I reckon it was really good having them around in pre-season to run things and set the standards."
McLean is the most experienced of a group of giant young forwards coming through at the Storm who ripped the Titans to shreds on Sunday.
The likes of Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Felise Kaufusi and Christian Welch are all contributing positively on a much more regular basis and McLean said all the younger members of the squad are itching for their shot in the top grade.
"I think we've always had that amongst the club, if the opportunity comes along to be ready for that chance," he said. "For example, Suli [Vunivalu] got his chance through injuries and he's put his hand right up for the spot and he's going very well at the moment.
"Overall all the young fellas are doing a very good job at the moment but the whole group's very tight this year. All good mates, everyone jokes about whether you're old, young or whatever, age doesn't really come into it."