FORMER Tathra Sea Eagles rugby league player Adam Elliott is one step closer to the big show.
Elliott, who signed on with the Canterbury Bulldogs as a 14-year-old, has just been selected in the NSW under 20s Origin squad to play in Penrith, Sydney, on Sunday.
Ellliott said he was excited to learn of his selection.
“They picked the team [on Monday] and I just got a call from the Bulldogs general manager Allan Thompson saying ‘congratulations you’ve made the NSW origin team’,” Elliott said.
“I was pretty stoked to find that out.”
It’s not the only challenge Elliott will face this year after also taking on the captaincy of his under 20s Bulldogs development squad.
“I’ve been given the duty of being captain this year, so it’s a big responsibility I’ve taken on,” Elliott said.
“We haven’t started well, but it’s a 26-round season so I think we can turn it around.
“It’s always good being surrounded by good players as well,” he said.
Elliott said he thrived on the responsibility of being captain, and would use his past to inspire him in the Origin match.
“I like being the one to motivate the team and inspire a few of the fellas.
“It even comes back to the days playing down at Tathra – I think my team-mates would say it comes natural [to me] and it’s just carried on in my footy so far,” he said.
Sticking to his guns will be Elliott’s mentality ahead of the game.
“A big part of the game will be sticking to what I know,” Elliott said.
“As many people would know, it’s going to be a lot more ruthless and you’ll have to dig a lot deeper than you normally do.
“Just to show up and be tough for the 80 minutes will be something,” he said.
Elliott said part of the thrill was going shoulder-to-shoulder with some big names in the league and was looking forward to the task of an Origin match.
“I’m looking forward to playing against Anthony Milford – he’ll be in the halves and I’ll be in the second row, so we’ll clash a little bit and I’m looking forward to the challenge with him.”
Meanwhile, the Origin match is not the first taste of national recognition Elliott has received after captaining the Australian Schoolboys under 18s team.
“In a way this is my biggest achievement – Australian Schoolboys was a really great honour – this is one step closer to the NRL,” Elliott said.
Elliott said he took every role given to him as a privilege.
“It was a massive honour to play for them [Schoolboys], but this is huge.
“There is no such thing as just another rep side, every game is an opportunity and it’s very humbling.”
The Origin match will be “ticking one of the boxes” in the long journey towards the NRL, of which Elliott is in hot pursuit.
“I’ve been a Bulldogs supporter my whole life – when I started negotiations when I was 14 it was a big buzz for me, and now the buzz is even bigger.”
Although Elliott said he doesn’t feel ready to take on the NRL he wants to be at the Bulldogs.
“I’ve got a big loyalty to the club.
“It’s my dream to pull on a jersey for the Bulldogs,” he said.
Euan Aitken from Pambula and Moruya’s Rhys Kennedy are also named in the line-up.
Meanwhile, former Bega Rooster Dale Finucane is on the interchange for the Country v City Origin match.
Group 16 president Dean Lynch has declared the Far South Coast a “breeding ground” for top class players.
“Just goes to show that Group 16 has a proud tradition of fostering young talented sportspeople in our region,” Lynch said.
“Congratulations to all the players and their families.”