One of the many perks of being in the Queensland Origin side is travelling around to meet and greet the number of adoring Maroons fans across the state.
nib Newcastle Knights utility back Dane Gagai got to do just that this week at the annual Maroons fan day, made even more special as he went back to where it all began, his hometown of Mackay.
“This is where it all started for me, I was born and raised in Mackay and I played my entire junior footy for the Souths Sharks,” Gagai told Queensland Rugby League.
The visit brought back fond memories of his childhood.
"I remember being a young fella and playing barefoot rugby league and then Origin would come around and we would all sit in the lounge and have barbecues watching it,” Gagai said.
"I always dreamed about playing Origin as a young fella and I just hope I inspire some other kids from Mackay or anywhere else in North Queensland."
One fan in particular caught the 26-year-old's eye during the event, and that was Gagai’s grandfather Billy.
The two embraced in an emotional display, a proud family moment.
“It makes me so proud because I'm a proud grandfather," Billy told NRL.com
"This is awesome. It is so beautiful to see so many people.
"In Mackay we are all rugby league fanatics. He used to run alongside his father when he played. He's come so far."
Gagai will line up for his sixth Origin match.on Wednesday June 21 at ANZ Stadium.