Papalii proud to be named in young Maroons
Sunday 16 December 2012 9:00 AM
Canberra Raiders young gun Josh Papalii has capped off his best season to date in the NRL by being named in Queensland’s Emerging Origin Squad for 2013.
Papalii played in all of Canberra’s 26 games this season, cementing his starting spot in the forward pack and announcing himself as one of the best young second-rowers in the game.
There was a subsequent tug of war over the Longan Brothers junior’s representative future between New Zealand and Queensland, Australia however his decision to pledge his allegiance to the latter has been rewarded by selection in the Emerging Origin Squad.
“I was a bit overwhelmed when I first found out and just I’m so grateful to get this opportunity,” said Papalii.
“It’s the hardest decision I’ve had to make but it’s been made now and I’ve looked past that stage in my career and am moving forward and looking to keep training hard and see where it takes me.”
Whilst Papalii was visibly elated upon hearing the great news, he portrays maturity beyond his years when he talks of not getting too carried away of his selection and of the hard work ahead of himself.
“There’s a lot of hard work ahead to make the Origin side but it’s a good steer in the right direction for me.”
“I just have to concentrate on doing my best and working on the things that I need to improve on.”
“It’s the icing on the cake for me after a good year but until I wear that Maroon jersey in the State of Origin I won’t be fully happy. I’m still really pleased to have made this Emerging Squad but I know I have a lot of work yet to do.”
As humble as he is talented, Papalii didn’t even consider himself an outside chance to make the squad.
“I honestly didn’t think I was ever going to make the squad at first but being selected has given me a lot of enthusiasm just to keep going with my career.”
“It’s really given me a lot of belief in myself and I can’t wait for the camp.”
The camp takes place in Brisbane next month from January 25-27 where the 14-man squad, headlined by Dally M Player of the Year Ben Barba, will work with QAS rugby league director Wayne Bennett and current XXXX Maroons coach and former Raiders great Mal Meninga.
“I’m really stoked to get the chance to be coached by some of my idols and train with all these other talented players.”
“In every team there are great players and you always wonder what it’s like to train with those superstars. It will be great to learn off them and the coaching staff.”
The full squad is Barba (Canterbury Bulldogs), Justin O’Neill (Melbourne Storm), Dale Copley (Brisbane Broncos), Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles), Andrew McCullough, Martin Kennedy (Sydney Roosters), Josh McGuire (Brisbane Broncos), William Zillman (Gold Coast Titans) and Chris McQueen (South Sydney Rabbitohs).