Country's Boyd and the beautiful
One is so country that he forgot to bring his size 16 shoes to Tamworth while the other wouldn't leave home without his hairbands yet Shannon Boyd and Jack de Belin typify the opportunities on offer for players representing Country Origin on Sunday.
The starting front-rowers for Country in the AAMI Country-City clash hail from Cowra and Cootamundra respectively, the Magpies and Bulldogs forming the epicentre of two proud rugby league regions and who will no doubt be well represented at Scully Park.
But that is where the similarities end.
Although both dominated the under-20s competition they did so in differing fashions, Boyd steam-rolling boys still growing into their bodies with his 194-centimetre and 122-kilogram frame while De Belin's path to his player of the year honour in 2011 was built on a high work-rate and impeccable tackling technique.
De Belin's blonde locks and man bun have won the admiration of rugby league Immortals while Boyd's big body is appreciated by rugby league greats for slightly different reasons.
"I like Shannon Boyd. Big is beautiful," says former Country, NSW and Australia prop forward Steve Roach.
"He's a good player and he can run the ball. He'd be nearly the hardest bloke in the game to tackle. You watch the way he throws blokes off, if he could get that little bit more mobility in defence – and he knows that – but he's come a long way.
"I don't think it's any secret the way Country is going to play on the weekend if you have a look at our pack and then our bench. If you've got a big side you've got to play big."
Rather than playing off the back of his bullocking runs Canberra teammate Aidan Sezer will be attempting to quell his charges as a member of the City team on Sunday and said he is deserving of more recognition for the amount of work he gets through.
"He's got a bit of an engine for a big fella," Sezer said. "I don't think most people recognise that about him but he's a pretty fit bloke and looks after himself and I'll be ducking and weaving from him this weekend.
"He's as country as they come. He hates Sydney every time we go up there. He's old school, a proud country boy and I'm happy to see him representing where he's from."
While Boyd will never have to worry about being labelled a pretty boy De Belin could suffer a fate similar to movie star Brad Pitt in that his body of work will be overshadowed by his good looks.
But former Dragon Shaun Timmins has seen enough in the 25-year-old's development in recent seasons to know there is more substance than style.
"Obviously he's got the man bun and the nose ring but don't be fooled by it, he's a pretty tough dude," Timmins tells NRL.com.
"He's got a real good tackle technique and I know that he's champing at the bit to play in this Country game.
"Obviously he's played a bit of first grade now but this year he's taken a step up. He's played first grade for a bit and needs to go to that next level and be something of a leader.
"With Trent Merrin moving on he needed to become a bit of a leader and force his hand into representative footy and he's done that.
"I know he's been pretty desperate to play in it and he gets his chance. I know he's really keen to put his name forward for a Blues spot."
In making 382 tackles over the first nine weeks of the Telstra Premiership De Belin ranks second for most tackles made but even more impressive is that he has missed just five all season.
More than that, Timmins says that every tackle De Belin makes counts, comparing him to one of the game's most famed hitters.
"He's got one of those techniques like [Trevor] Gillmeister used to have where he hits through the middle," said Timmins who represented Country in 2003 as well as nine Tests and nine Origins for New South Wales.
"He gets good line speed and on these big blokes he gets right up under them. A lot of blokes tackle over the ball but he hits through the middle of them and he's just got one of those perfect timing and techniques.
"I know he works fairly hard on that at the Dragons and that's why he's probably up there in the stats."
He's so good, even an old hard-head like 'Blocker' Roach can't help but be impressed.
"He rips in I can tell you," Roach said.
"I don't know about the bun on the hair, that's not really my go, but he's a good player."