Origin: All about my time in Camp Maroon before Game I win
IF YOU'RE born and bred to bleed maroon or blue, or you move and don the colours later in life, State of Origin is a rite of passage for cane toads and cockroaches alike.
Getting the opportunity to enter Camp Maroon, talk to the players about their passion for the Queensland jersey, and share the unique Origin excitement with other reporters from all over the country, has taken my respect for the spectacle to a whole new level.
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You get a glimpse of history. Giants of the game like Slater, Langer, Civoniceva, Thurston and Hodges make themselves available for camp in different capacities, offering their advice, sharing their experiences, passing on their passion. It's truly special to watch.
You also get a look at the future, the "new era" everyone is talking about. No longer is it about the Melbourne Storm tour de force of Slater, Cronk or Smith. Memories of Lockyer, Inglis, JT, Petero, Thaiday, Webcke and Matty Bowen will always be special, but they're memories.
Kalyn Ponga is the beacon lighting up our Origin pathway, and the most exciting part is that he really could be anything. Same goes for Cam Munster. Or David Fifita.
Daly Cherry-Evans speaks with as much love for the jersey as any. He wants to bring the shield home, and you get the unwavering sense he'll give it all he's got, and probably more. You wonder if this might be the next great chapter in an inspirational sporting story, the next entry into the annals of Queensland rugby league's greatest ever moments.
Every now and then, you get a reminder that sport is about so much more than the game, whatever game it may be. The players, the coaches, the officials, the fans, the media, we're all united in our love for it.
It's Origin time, folks. It's time to show off our unmatchable "QUEENSLANDER" spirit once more.