Every young rugby league player dreams of one-day featuring in a State of Origin series.
No matter which side of the border they come from or how old they are, players everywhere dream of pulling on either a sky blue or maroon jumper.
For nib Newcastle Knights legend Steve Simpson, he was one of the lucky ones who received the magic ring of a phone with the State of Origin coach on the other end of the line.
“When you get that phone call, you’ve sort of got to pinch yourself,” Simpson told the Our Town Our Team podcast.
“It was a very surreal and proud moment to receive that phone call.
“It something you only dream about as a kid, so to be able to do that stuff…I’ll never forget it, it was great.”
Simpson went on to make 13 appearances for New South Wales, including a memorable series win in 2005.
Across his time spent in the Origin arena, Simpson had the pleasure of playing alongside some of the modern era’s greats, including Anthony Minichiello, Mark Gasnier and Steve Menzies, as well as Club teammates Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus.
However, one of his favourite players to play alongside him was someone who he often lined up against in Club-land.
“Craig Fitzgibbon’s a bloke who stuck out, just his work rate and how tough a player he was,” Simpson said.
“He wasn’t a big human either, he was tall and skinny like myself, but certainly had a big motor and kept coming.
“Obviously him playing on the left edge at the Roosters and me being on the right for Newcastle, we came up against him a fair bit, and you always knew you were in for a tough day with 'Fitzy' there.”
While the man who is now a highly regarded assistant Coach at the Sydney Roosters was a stand-out, another man who Simpson holds in high regards is a current Fox Sports personality.
“I think Hindy as well, nobody realises how quick Hindy was,” he said.
“He certainly had a big motor, but he was a bloody quick human as well, particularly in his early days.”
One moment in particular stands out for Simpson.
“One of the Queenslanders made a break one day and I was running near Hindy,” he said.
“I still don’t know how he got him, but he ran him down.
“He really surprised me for a big bloke how quick he was.”
Simpson even had the opportunity to room with the mobile backrower, who is known for his personality as a bit of a larrikin.
“He’s a bit messy, but I’m probably a little bit messy as well,” Simpson laughed.
“He was a good room-mate and they were certainly enjoyable times which is good, and it was great to be a part of those squads and play with such great players as well from other clubs.”