Blair has Origin on his mind
MARYBOROUGH’S Maurice Blair received an early Christmas present on Saturday and it wasn’t from the big man in the red suit either.
Queensland Rugby League officials gave the 25-year-old Penrith Panthers representative what he wanted to hear – an opportunity that may help his dream of playing Origin football become a reality one day.
Blair, who played for Wallaroos and Rovers in the Heritage City, has been named in the 14-strong Queensland Rugby League Emerging State of Origin squad.
The squad, which includes some of the most impressive young talent in the National Rugby League and is made up of players representing seven clubs, will go into a three-day camp in Brisbane starting on January 22.
The camp is all part of a plan to let young players know what being a part of a Maroon team is all about and those in the camp will join the Maroons at various stages throughout the State of Origin campaign.
They will also get put through their paces by two of the best in the business, Wayne Bennett and Mal Meninga.
Blair, who was off-contract with the Panthers at the end of the season but has re-signed on a one-year deal, has already worked with Meninga, the Queensland State of Origin coach.
He was a member of the Meninga- coached Australian Prime Minister’s team that beat Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby last year.
Not surprisingly, Blair, who helped Wallaroos win the Bundaberg Rugby League 2003 A-grade premiership, said he was looking forward to the camp.
“It doesn’t get any better than having the chance to work with Bennett and Meninga,” Blair, who has scored 10 tries in 48 games in the top-flight for the Panthers, said.
“My dream has always been to play State of Origin for Queensland since I first started playing the game.
“This camp is certainly a step in the right direction to me maybe seeing that dream come true.”Squad
Andrew McCullough (Broncos), Jharal Yow Yeh (Broncos), Steve Michaels (Broncos), Daniel Vidot (Raiders), Joseph Tomane (Titans), Esi Tonga (Titans), William Zillman (Titans), Richard Fa’aoso (Knights), Scott Bolton (Cowboys), Matt Bell (Panthers), Maurice Blair (Panthers), Ben Lowe (Rabbitohs), Chris Sandow (Rabbitohs), David Taylor (Rabbitohs)