Hess's Origin dream
North Queensland Cowboys young gun Coen Hess says his selection in the Queensland Maroons team for Game Two is a dream come true.
The 20-year-old will make his State of Origin debut on June 21 at Suncorp Stadium, just 22 games into his NRL career.
The 114kg enforcer has been in Queensland's system for some time, pulling on a maroon jumper in Under-16s, Under-18s and Under-20s before becoming a member of Queensland's Emerging Maroons squad.
Naturally an Origin debut is the next step in his development as a footballer, but it hasn't stopped the Bundaberg-born second-row forward from pinching himself in disbelief at the news of his selection.
"Like every young Queenslander it has always been my dream. I've started mingling with the boys and I'm a bit star struck," Hess told QRL Media.
"It has been a pretty long journey and one that I've really enjoyed. I'm stoked to be here.
"I wasn't expecting selection too much. I got a new phone and I saw a random number, deep down I was hoping it was Kevvie. I answered the phone and it was him. I was over the moon.”
"I told mum and dad straight away. I then let them tell the family.
"I was on the plane when the team was officially announced so when I got off my phone was going off with messages from family and friends."
Hess will now get the opportunity to run out with Cowboys teammate and Maroons all-time great Johnathan Thurston in what is to be his last Origin series before retiring from representative rugby league.
It is something Hess will remember forever, honoured to be playing with his idol in one of the highest levels of rugby league.
"You can see how much of an influence he had on that game against the Eels. He brought so much to the team. He will do that here as well," Hess said.
"I grew up watching him play, especially in the Origin arena.
"To say I ran out with him in the Queensland jumper is something I'll always have. I'll cherish it for the rest of my life."
Hess has been in sensational form in 2017, battering opponents and producing statistics that back up his on-field dominance.
Equal third in the leading try-scorer standings with 10 for the year, Hess has a knack for finding the line.
But that is in no way all he is good for, with his work rate rivalling some of the best forwards in the game.
This work rate has helped him to reach an average of 102 metres and 23 tackles per game, with Hess quickly becoming a vital cog in Cowboys coach Paul Green's side.
Hess can also play 80 minutes if needed, and although that will not be expected of him in Game Two, it is a handy option for Maroons coach Kevin Walters to have.
Walters, who has had his eye on Hess for some time, said North Queensland's up and coming star is ready for his Origin debut.
"I think the whole rugby league world knows Coen is ready. It's a good opportunity for him," Walters said.
"He's only a young player that hasn't played a lot of first grade, but it's an opportunity for him to come in.
"We feel he's the best option for us. He will bring some size, power and strength to our team."