Dream Come True for Papalii
Wednesday 19 June 2013 10:11 AM
Canberra Raiders second-rower Josh Papalii has revealed his excitement about his selection for the Queensland State of Origin side, describing it as “a dream come true.”
Papalii has been selected to make his debut from the interchange bench after Queensland went down to NSW 14-6 in Game One.
“JB [Raiders Football Manager John Bonasera] called me into his office yesterday and told me of the good news,” said Papalii from inside the Maroons camp.
“I was over the moon when he said ‘congratulations you’ve been selected for Queensland’ and I couldn’t get the smile off my face. It’s a dream come true for me and I’m just so thankful to everyone who has helped me along the way.”
Papalii was able to share the moment shortly after with his close friend Anthony Milford.
“At the time Tony and I were going to pick up my car so when I came downstairs from JB’s office he was the first person I told and his face lit up with a big smile.
“He was so happy for me and gave me a big hug. Actually he gave me a few hugs that day, he was a bit full on,” laughed Papalii.
Milford is a passionate Queenslander and captained the Under 20s side earlier this year. Papalii too has represented Queensland at an underage level when he donned the Maroon jersey for the Under 18s side in 2010.
It was where he soon realised that if he continued to work hard, his dream may become a reality.
“I remember playing in that game and it was such a buzz to pull on that Maroon jersey,” said Papalii. “It was always a dream of mine to play Origin for Queensland and to play in that game was a step in the right direction for me if I continued to work hard.
“I can’t believe I’m here now. I’m rooming with Billy Slater tonight who is one of the greats of the game. It’s a bit surreal but I’m looking to make the most of my opportunity.
“I’m more excited than nervous.”
Part of what has calmed Papalii’s nerves was his inclusion in the squad for Game One of the series. Although he did not take the field for the Maroons, Papalii believes that being a part of the build-up and getting to know the players has eased any concerns he may have had previously.
“Being a part of the squad for Game One helped me out a lot,” said Papalii. “I feel much more comfortable within the team now and it has given me a lot of confidence.”
Coach Mal Meninga included Papalii in the squad to further his progress however his form for Canberra made him an irresistible proposition for Game Two.
“I thought that new faces, fresh faces, more enthusiasm was important - certainly for game two,” said Meninga via QRL Media.
“They've [Papalii and Cherry-Evans] been part of the emerging program and what we call our 18th man program when they come in and be part of the squad.
“They're playing particularly well and they’re at the stage of their careers where they're pretty hard to refuse for places in the side. It's a case of them playing really, really well and forcing their way into the side and hopefully moving forward we've made all the right decisions.”
Never one to forget where he came from, Papalii has paid thanks to his supporters as he looks to prove Meninga’s decision a correct one.
“I’m really thankful to be here and I definitely won’t be taking it for granted. My family is really proud of me and I’ll be sure to fly the old man up for the game. He’ll be pumped for it.
“Again I just want to say thanks to all of my family, friends and supporters, especially the Raiders fans.
“I can’t wait to get out there next Wednesday!”