McCullough in emotional limbo as he awaits Maroons call
When Sunday rolls around, Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough will be planning a short break with his wife or packing his bags to join the Queensland camp, so it is no wonder he has a lot of emotions running through his head.
The 28-year-old will spend the next 48 hours in a "strange" limbo as he waits to find out whether he will replace Cameron Smith in the opening game of the Holden State of Origin series in Melbourne on June 6.
The Queensland side will be announced on Monday morning but coach Kevin Walters will call McCullough on Sunday if he has some good news for him about a Maroons debut.
The Broncos have the bye in round 13 so several players are taking short breaks.
"I was going to work out with my partner on Sunday where we were going to go," he said after the 18-10 win over the Parramatta Eels.
"I’ve got nothing organised yet. We'll wait and see."
Since Smith announced his retirement from the representative scene McCullough has been thrust into the limelight and into a quandary mentally that is foreign to him.
"It is hard, just emotionally. Mentally you have never been in that situation and as a footballer, it is just hard sometimes," he said.
"I didn’t know what was going to happen a couple of weeks ago [with Smith] and if they do pick me …who knows? It is just a strange one and an awkward one because it is out of your hands.
"You don't want to get ahead of yourself, and then you think 'am I half a chance here?' The emotions go around in your head … but it is exciting and I am pretty stoked to even be mentioned."
If Maroons selectors proceed with a regular rake then McCullough is the favourite to edge out Jake Friend and Jake Granville. The only other way Queensland could go is play Ben Hunt at hooker and Michael Morgan in the halves, but that is unlikely.
If he missed out McCullough said he would be philosophical about it.
"My drive for training and my drive to be a better player myself won't change," he said.
"It is something I have really adapted to and probably improved over the last four or five years.
"I’ve just gone and tried to be me and the best player I can be."
McCullough said Walters had not spoken to him recently about his chances of getting a call-up but that doesn't mean he hasn't noticed what has been written and spoken about him.
"I haven’t spoken to Kev but it is in the media and it is hard not to get caught up in it sometimes, but that's just normal," he said.
"[Brisbane] have had a good couple of wins now so I think that helps with the mindset of enjoying your weekend and then going back to training."
If he was selected, McCullough said it would be "hard to put in words" his emotions.
"Just being a kid from Dalby you just dream of doing it. Is that a reality? I’m not sure."
The idea of escaping to the bush for a few days while he waits to learn his Origin fate may not be an option either, although an appealing one.
"It could be even harder out there,” McCullough grinned.
"My parents are away at the moment…but I’d love to go back home and get the fire pit going and have a few red wines with Dad."
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Tickets available at NRL.com/tickets.