Arrow an almighty fine example of Maroons grit
God made Eve out of a rib of the first man Adam, so it is written. If the Almighty was creating a prototype State of Origin footballer today he may look at doing so out of the rib of Queensland debutant Jai Arrow, albeit a broken one.
For it is one broken rib, or Arrow's attitude to it at least, that sums up why the Gold Coast Titans forward is built for Origin.
Hayden Knowles, the Titans head of performance, is in camp with the Blues this week as a trainer and joked he didn't know whether he wanted to be talking up a Queenslander.
However, Knowles said the story of how Arrow broke a rib in pre-season, demanded to be thrown into full-contact and then played in round one against the odds encapsulates why Kevin Walters has chosen the 22-year-old forward.
"Jai has shown the mental strength that is a characteristic of the true champions and the players that are readymade for State of Origin," Knowles told NRL.com
"Before the last trial game he was demanding to be thrown into training with a broken rib.
"The coach told him to relax and that he'd be in his team for round one, but he still had the broken rib then and demanded to play against Canberra.
"He was busted round one and has been busted most weeks since with back spasms and all sorts of injuries but you'd never know because he never says a word and plays the house down. That is how hungry he is. He's a machine, he really is, and just a tough kid."
Walters said selectors "just couldn't ignore Jai's form" and revealed why Arrow's determination to play in the early rounds has been so decisive in him getting his Maroons debut.
"He has been outstanding from round one and what impressed me most about Jai was round two against the Warriors in New Zealand where he played front row and took the whole team on by himself basically," Walters said.
"From that moment forward I thought 'this bloke has really got something'. It wasn't just one high. He has been playing some great football all year so his form got him in the side and nothing else."
Arrow told NRL.com he was blown away by Walters's praise, but shrugged off his capacity to play through pain.
"I'm not one to worry about injuries; I’m more focused on playing footy," he said
"I'm a sort of brain-dead sort of bloke. If I do get an injury I try to manage it the best I can, but it didn't worry me one bit.
"If I do get hurt I just want to get up and back in the defensive line and put my body on the line for the team because if you see your mate hurting and he is still doing his job … you grow in confidence when you see stuff like that.
"Jarrod Wallace missed the first two games through suspension so I took it upon myself to stand up and do what I could for the team."
Arrow is still pinching himself about his meteoric rise but said he was determined to take his opportunity and not let anyone down.
"That is what I pride myself on … not letting anyone down.
"I also want to make myself proud because I came back to the Gold Coast to prove myself."
The new Maroon said Knowles had lifted him into the best physical shape of his career.
"Yeah. I am a strong-willed sort of person," Arrow grinned. "I don't like it when he pulls me out of a session. It is annoying."
Arrow said there had been "a bit of banter" thrown in Knowles's direction of late.
"I wish him all the best … but hopefully, he doesn't prepare NSW too well because we want to win game one."
As for Knowles, he sort of rues the fact Arrow is not a Blue.
"He was born in western Sydney and grew up [for six years] in Greystanes, so I tell him every week 'you are meant to be a Blue'," Knowles chuckled.
"Even Freddy [Fittler) lived in Greystanes for a while and Gus Gould went to Greystanes High, the two most passionate Blues.
"Jai is playing for Queensland … it's not right. I'm hoping he doesn't handle it, but I am sure he will because Origin is made for those mentally tough guys like Jai. It is probably the Greystanes in him. I'm really proud of him."