As a junior Rugby league player on the Gold Coast, Jarrod Wallace absorbed every minute of the annual State of Origin hype, cherishing those nights, three times a year, when he'd sit up with his Rugby League loving family, hanging off every play, cheering on his beloved Maroons.
Just weeks after committing to a long-term contract with the Gold Coast Titans, Jarrod Wallace is preparing for his third State of origin encounter after being named in coach Kevin Walters team.
"Stoked to be able to get picked again, you know it's every little boy's dream to play Origin and so to get to play a third one now, it's outstanding to get in the camp and play with the calibre of the players and guys in that camp, you know it's just an awesome feeling and just a proud moment every time I get that opportunity" Wallace said.
While a relative newcomer to the Queensland team, Wallace is under no illusions that this year's Queensland camp will look and feel very different with some of the game's biggest stars stepping down from the origin and representative arena, he's also excited at the opportunity those changes will create for the states next generation of SOO stars.
"Obviously not having Coops and Smithy and JT, so obviously they are not going to be there, but I know that the boys that are there are going to do a great job and no matter who gets that jersey, once it's on, it gives you super powers I reckon, everyone just wants to play for the jersey and everyone wants to play for the team and the State and it's just exciting that there's just new opportunities for new players"
Wallace says the first forty-eight hours of Origin camp is quite manic, with media appearances, fan days, team meetings and functions scheduled around massage and recovery sessions, before the squad goes into camp at Sanctuary Cove on Wednesday and the focus turns totally to game one preparations.
Jarrod's family no longer watch the game at home on the couch, Origin representation an occasion to be cherished and celebrated and an event that brings out the softer side in even the hardest of the Wallace clan, and like last year, Jarrod can't wait to look into the crowd and see his family cheering from the stands.
"Oh mate, I remember last year when I got picked, my old man, as tough as they come and he had tears in his eyes and mum just had no words, so it's a huge honour for me and my family to be there and be able to take my kids and share that moment with everyone, you know my brothers, my grandparents, it's just such a special moment and something that we will always cherish as a family"
The Gold Coast titans will have two representatives in the Queensland squad this year with emerging superstar Jai Arrow named on the bench after a stand out season to date with the Titans.
Wallace not surprised, but absolutely delighted to be heading into camp with his Gold Coast stable mate.
"We call him the axe murderer and I reckon he would just be out there hunting, doing the job that he does every week for us at the Gold Coast, he's an outstanding player, he's playing massive minutes for his first real big year of first grade, starting every week and I know if he gets the opportunity for Queensland, he will take it with both hands and rip in"
Coach Kevin Walters saying Jai Arrow selected himself through consistently strong form for the Gold Coast.
"We just couldn't ignore his form could we Geno, he's been outstanding since round one, what impressed me most about Jai is I think it was round two or three against the Warriors over in New Zealand and he played front row and just took the whole team on basically by himself and from that moment forward I just thought gee this guy has got something and it wasn't just one high, he's been playing some great football all year so his form was what got him in the side and nothing else"
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