When young Newcastle Knights half Jack Cogger runs out onto the Melbourne Cricket Ground this Wednesday night, he knows it won’t all be about football finesse.
It will boil down to how each side sticks together as a team.
Cogger has been selected alongside fellow Knights Brodie Jones and Brock Lamb in the U18s NSW representative side poised to play the curtain-raiser match to game two of the 2015 State of Origin series.
“A lot of the guys haven’t played together and don’t know each other, so it will be important to come together as a team,” Cogger explained from camp.
“We will be doing a lot of training and football skills but it will be about coming together as much as we can.
“That’s one thing they definitely stress.
“Both the teams in NSW and Queensland will be pretty similar in skill and footy wise, but they always stress the team that comes togther the most will get over the line on Wednesday night.
“It’s one thing there is a focus on.”
For a young player who has already notched some significant games and representative honours, he embraces Wednesday night’s spectacle as his highest achievment yet.
From an initial group of more than 40 names, NSW selectors whittled down the team after watching players in the SG Ball and NYC competitions.
“It was very exciting. We’ve known for a little while that we’ve been in bigger squads and they have slowly gotten smaller and smaller,” he said about his call up.
“It’s was a bit of a relief too.”
Cogger and Lamb progressed through the Knights' Harold Matthews and SG Ball sides together with their dynamic partnership in the halves seeing them both earn roles in the Australian Schoolboys side to tour England at the end of 2014.
“Brock and I have been playing together for a long time now and it makes it a lot easier especially in the positons we’re in,” he said.
“It’s good to have Brodie here as well. It’s always good to have a few teammates there.”
The young Knights flew to Melbourne on Monday after preparing in Narabeen over the weekend.
As the match draws nearer, excitement is palpabale for the 17-year-old.
“There are not many games played at the MCG so to be involved in this is unreal,” he said.
“It’s a good achievment for all of us.”
The 2014 Carlson Club-Andrew Johns Medal recipient said his family is equally thrilled to see him play in such a high-profile match.
“My family are all excited as well and I’ll probably have a little bandwagon to support me,” he said.
Cogger is preparing himself for a high intensity, energy-charged match and expects the players on each team to buy into the unique spirit of the State of Origin.
“It’s definitely going to be hard, there’s no doubt about that. Hopefully we will play the whole time and it will be very close,” he said.
“Hopefully we come away with no injuries and will be ready to come back to Newcastle.
“I had a few goals at the start of the year and this was one of them. It’s always good to keep on track and has been good to play in the Under 20s.
“It has definitely helped me and hopefully I learn from playing with experienced players.”