Nathan Peats takes part in a NSW State of Origin team training session at Kingscliff this week.
Nathan Peats takes part in a NSW State of Origin team training session at Kingscliff this week. DAVE HUNT

Hooker's emotions run high ahead of Origin opener

THE magnitude of wearing the famous Blues' jersey for NSW is not lost on State of Origin newcomer Nathan Peats.

Peats, who will make his Origin debut in the No.9 jersey, became emotional this week when asked to explain to his new teammates what playing Origin would mean to him.

"I get a bit emotional at the best of times, (but) Origin means a hell of a lot to me," Peats said.

"This is what I've been working hard for my whole career, and putting my family through a lot for, especially my partner.

"When I was at Souths, in and out of first grade, they (family) have been by my side the whole time.

"People think footy players are invincible but without a good support system at home I probably wouldn't be where I am today.

"I think that all got the best of me and got me a bit choked up because I know how much it means to me, but I know how much it means to them as well."

It's been a whirlwind week for Peats, who was named on Monday as one of two Blues' debutantes alongside Manly's Jake Trbojevic.

 

NSW hooker Nathan Peats in action for the Gold Coast Titans.
NSW hooker Nathan Peats in action for the Gold Coast Titans. DAVE HUNT

Named at hooker after frontrunner for the position, Peter Wallace, was ruled out through injury, Peats forms part of a new generation for the Blues, taking over the role from Robbie Farrah who served 16 games in the role.

After the emotion of the moment got the better of him at Monday night's meeting, it was quickly down to business for Peats.

Thoughts of the game have been pushed aside with Peats' short-term focus solely on training and doing his part for the team and the Gold Coast Titans' playmaker is confident he can run out the full 80 minutes in the Origin pressure-cooker.

"I'm just going to go out there and do my job, lay my tackles and give good service," he said.

"When you're playing with these kinds of sides they're a step above so I don't have to try anything tricky, just do a basic job and hopefully we'll get the win."

Toppling a Queensland side that has won 11 of the past 12 interstate series in front of a parochial Queensland crowd at Suncorp Stadium will be no easy feat for NSW, who will be led out for the first time by new captain Boyd Cordner.

While the task may have become easier following the announcement that Queensland star Johnathan Thurston has succumbed to a shoulder injury, Peats said the Blues are expecting a typically fierce and focussed Maroons outfit.

 

Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston has been ruled out of the opening State of Origin clash with a shoulder injury.
Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston has been ruled out of the opening State of Origin clash with a shoulder injury. DAVE HUNT

"Obviously Thurston's world class but (Anthony) Milford and (Michael) Morgan, whoever fills in there, they're both quality players," he said.

"(Cooper) Cronk and (Cameron) Smith are still there to steer the ship around so they'll still have a pretty good game plan. I'm not expecting too much of a change."

Peats expects the Maroons will target him early but he declared he is ready to step up and take on the responsibility.

"It's my job as a hooker to take the tackles and weather the storm. It is what it is," he said.

"I'm preparing for the toughest game of my life. I've never played in an NRL grand final but I'm sure it's that kind of level, and a little bit more.

"It will be the toughest night of my life and that's the way I've got to approach it."

News Corp Australia


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