NSW winger Josh Mansour in training ahead of Game One of the 2016 series.

Mansour doing it for his mum

Josh Mansour was in a foul mood last weekend after his Penrith Panthers squandered a late lead to lose at home to the Gold Coast Titans.

But that all changed with one phone call that confirmed he had earned a spot in Laurie Daley's side to make his debut in the Holden State of Origin series opener on June 1.

"We had a pretty tough loss against the Titans which was disappointing. I wasn't in the best of moods and my football manager gave me a call on the way home and my mood did a complete 360," he said. 

"My missus was driving me home so she was obviously the first to find out and the second was my mum. 

"She was just going home for an early night's sleep and as soon as I broke the news she was waiting at my doorstep."

Speaking to his mum, Angie, that evening put the 28-24 loss earlier that day in perspective. 

Mansour was barely a teenager when his parents separated, and as a result he and his two younger sisters were brought up through their most important years single-handedly by their mother.  

The Blues debutant remembered the tough times growing up in Earlwood in Sydney's inner-west, but believes the hardships made him the person he is today. 

"My parents had their differences and at a young age they went their separate paths. It's an unfortunate circumstance, but in saying that, me and my younger sisters and my mum were able to move on and we're very close," he said. 

"I had a pretty tough upbringing. I was brought up in a housing commission home and it wasn't an easy road to get here. 

"I'd walk from Tempe station and there was a massive hill up Bayview Avenue. I was in my blazer, sweating it out up that hill.

"The struggles, I believe, make you a tougher person."

 


Growing up without his dad there to help him through his teenage years was tough, but thankfully Mansour had his mum there every step of the way.

The 25-year-old credits his mother's tireless and unselfish efforts for making him the player he is today. 

Not only did she work long hours to provide for her family, but she took him to training, picked him up from games and took him to school without question. It was her passion and support that drove him to succeed in footy. 

"I started playing rugby league when I was 10 so I was still premature in my rugby league days," he recalled. 

"My mum was the one taking me to training. I had to pretty much learn everything myself. I didn't have a father figure to help me out heaps, but in saying that, I'm very lucky to have a mother like I do.  

"Even as a kid she's always been the one taking me to training, picking me up. She's been a single mother for most of her life and she's been there for me in my dark days and my happy days, so she's definitely my biggest supporter.

"Every time that she finished work, she was obviously tired, but she was always the one that said 'let's go'. There was never an excuse. There was never complaining about it. She was always excited to take me to training. 

"To make me happy made her happy."

The Panthers winger became emotional when asked what he'd do if he saw his mum in the crowd on Wednesday night.

"There's no words to describe it," he said.   

"Just knowing the struggles that I've been through and always her being there to help me out has been massive. Looking at her and knowing that I've come this far is going to be unbelievable. I'm sure she'll be feeling the same way.

"I'm so happy that I make her proud and I just want to have a big game for her."

Having lived under his mother's care all his life, Mansour said he'd love to repay her in any way possible; stopping short of promising her a new Mercedes Benz. 

"It's been crossing my mind recently," he revealed. 

"Everything I've asked for she's always tried her hardest to give it to me. Whatever she needs, she knows that I'm just down the road. Whatever she needs I'll always be there for her. 

"I'd love to return the favour for what she's done for me as a kid growing up."