Advice and encouragement from Petero Civoniceva and several of Queensland's great forwards have Maroons tyro Coen Hess ready to navigate a pivotal State of Origin game in his young career.
On Tuesday night Civoniceva, Shane Webcke and Brad Thorn were invited into Queensland camp to speak to the players and attend a dinner in Brisbane.
The 21-year-old Cowboys forward was awestruck and said a trio of his idols had provided extra incentive to avoid a whitewash in game three of the Holden State of Origin series at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
"Petero said I have to believe in myself," Hess said.
"I have shown glimpses of what I am capable of. He said if I can bring it into my game more regularly than I will do well.
"It was unreal. We had a chat to all of them briefly and they said they were really proud of us.
"Obviously we are going through a difficult time at the moment and they just wanted to express that they were all behind us, and have full confidence in us. coming from them it is massive, especially for someone like me who is still pretty young."
Hess said he expected to play more minutes in game three than he did in game one.
With the series lost, Hess said there were no guarantees for next year after the majority of the successful 2017 side was rewarded with re-selection.
"It was probably easy for Kevvie to pick the team coming into this series knowing that we got the job done last year. Next year will come down to club form like it always does sort of, but we won't really have that guarantee," he said.
Hess said the Maroons greats in camp told him to "flush" the previous two losses behind them and focus on the task at hand.
Their advice also had an impact on veteran Gavin Cooper who said he enjoyed catching up with former Panthers teammate Civoniceva.
Cooper said the experiences of players like Civoniceva, who answered the critics in the best possible way during his career, provided valuable lessons.
"There was a big push for [Civoniceva] to get pushed out in 2005-06 and then they started what was a historic run, never to be repeated again," he said.
"Everyone knows what those guys have been through in the Maroon jersey. They are still big kids who got to live a dream and just to see what those guys are doing now and having time for us is pretty special."
Cooper said Hess was a special talent who was learning plenty in the toughest cauldron of them all.
"The sky is the limit for him," Cooper said.
"People are surprised with how tough he plays the game and with Hessy he is still learning. He has been chopped and changed a bit from the middle to the edge.
"He was always the biggest kid on the field. He looked 15 when he was 10, so he was the guy they just threw the ball to but he is now playing against grown men and it's tougher for him.
"He is playing 80 minutes this year [at the Cowboys] which is a learning curve for him. A lot of people were expecting him to score two tries a game but he is playing 80 minutes this year and doing a good job."
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