New Maroons five-eighth Corey Norman has been endorsed by captain Daly Cherry-Evans and hooker Ben Hunt as a match-winner who will embrace the challenge of debuting in a State of Origin decider.
The 28-year-old Dragons playmaker is in his 10th NRL season and Cherry-Evans said he was hungry and ready to take the State of Origin decider at ANZ Stadium on July 10 by the scruff of the neck.
Cherry-Evans has watched Norman put up his hand for the Dragons this year twice when the game was on the line to nail match-winning field goals against the Knights and Broncos. It is that mentality, in what could be another Origin decider that goes down to the wire, that Norman will bring to the table on Wednesday.
"All the best players want the footy at the crunch time, and Corey has done that over the years at different clubs," Cherry-Evans said.
"I have watched him pick apart a team first-hand as an opposition player. If he backs himself we are going to be in for a good night. If we are in a situation where it is tight at the end we have more than one person that is going to be willing to put their hand up and help this team win a game of footy. That is an exciting thing to know."
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When Cherry-Evans was asked what excited him most about his new combination with Norman he responded that it was "his demeanour on and off the field".
"He has had to wait a long time but it hasn’t fazed him. I’m sure he has been hungry and motivated but for him to rock into camp and train like he did yesterday and fit right in with the group is exciting," Cherry-Evans said.
"I have known Corey for a while now so there hasn’t been a worry about us not gelling. Now it is just about combinations on the field and that will come with repetition.
"Yesterday was a good start for us as a side and we will just keep building as the week goes on and Corey will get more and more confident in his role."
Coach Kevin Walters has given Norman a massive responsibility as a starting half in a decider the coach termed the biggest game in Origin history.
"From the outside looking in it is going to be built up as a big occasion and a big risk but we are professional athletes. This is what we live and breathe," Cherry-Evans said.
"We love being involved in big games and this isn’t an overwhelming challenge for Corey Norman. From what I can see he is very excited and very focused."
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Dragons teammate Hunt agreed that Norman had a similar approach to NSW five-eighth James Maloney, in the sense that he was a gambler who would not be afraid to produce the big play no matter what had transpired moments beforehand.
"He is definitely make or break. He goes for it, and that is the beauty of him," Hunt said.
"If he sees something he is going to go for it and that is something we definitely need going into this game.
"He just needs to attack and not be afraid to back his skills and go after the game.
"Any time in a game, Normie wants the ball. It doesn’t matter if you are up or down he is demanding the footy and wants to do something. That is a real positive for us.
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"If he comes out and plays exceptionally for us it is going to go a long way towards winning the game."
While Norman is slated to play on the left for Queensland, Hunt suggested he could appear anywhere.
"He might be on the left but the way Corey plays he likes to be all over the place," Hunt grinned.
"At the Dragons when he first came down it was left and right but he said ‘no, I want to be all over the field. I’ll come around your side and do this and that’. That is the kind of guy that he is. He just wants to be involved in everything. It is just going to be good to get him the ball."