Newcastle Knight Jack Cogger last week experienced what most rugby league players dream of.
The gifted half proudly lifted the Darren Lockyer Shield in front of flashing lights and his beaming teammates at ANZ Stadium following the Under 20s precurser to the NRL Origin game III on Wednesday night.
The side secured a satisfying 36-22 win over their rivals the Queensland Maroons with Cogger even scoring a try in NSW’s dominating effort.
“It was unreal to play before the main game and then to win,” he told Knights TV.
In fact, Cogger was swift to point out that the NSW Under 20s representative squad had secured the prize for the fifth straight year.
“It was always a good feeling to lift the trophy at the end of the match, it was quite well noted that it is called the Darren Lockyer Shield and Queensland haven’t touched it in the 20s so that was a good feeling,” he said.
The representative match marked back-to-back appearances in the Blues jersey for the talented tyro who was identified by NSW selectors as showing promise a number of seasons ago.
He described the atmosphere and intensity of the high-stakes match as a great experience and lapped up the chance to tap into the passion and professionalism of the lead up Origin camp.
“To watch the big boys win as well, it topped off a big night,” he added.
With the thrilling event and career highlight now a week-old memory, Cogger is back working away with at the Newcastle Knights with the belief his involvement with the representative side has polished both his game skills and match preparation.
“I try to get the most out of every session," he said.
“When we were in camp,we didn’t have that many sessions so we had to get the most out of the three sessions we had.
“To come back here, obviously every session is important.”
Cogger flew the red and blue flag alongside his teenage teammate Cory Denniss who made his representative debut playing at centre.
“It’s always a lot easier having someone you know running out beside you in a big game like that and it calms your nerves a little bit,” Cogger said.
"There is a lot of emotion when you run out, but once the ball is kicked off, you’re into the game and know what your job is."
Having also trained against and mingled with his senior NSW counterparts in the build up, Cogger is inspired to one day earn a first grade Blues jumper.
“We got to see what it means to them to play for the Blues jersey and that really reflected in how we played on Wednesday night,” he said.
Cogger was rested last weekend following Wednesday’s Origin but returns for the Under 20s match this Sunday against the Cronulla Sharks.