COUNTRY captain Beau Scott admits his side is well aware State of Origin spots are up for grabs this weekend after his side held its first training session at Dubbo’s Apex Oval this week.
The Country squad – including former Bega Rooster Dale Finucane of the Canterbury Bulldogs - arrived at Dubbo on Tuesday night and after the session on Thursday, Scott said a number of players from Country could claim a sky blue jersey if they impress on Sunday.
"This is a genuine trial for Origin, everyone knows that so everyone is raring to go and we'll put our best foot forward." he said.
After a number of changes to squad that was originally named on Sunday night, Scott said it was good to get out on to the field and admitted his side was already feeling prepared for the match against Brad Fittler's City team.
"It was really good, we had a really sharp session today and the weather is great so we're all looking forward to it," he said.
"We've got a youthful bunch of fellas there and they're all keen to go and showing they're ready for Sunday."
The squad trained for close to an hour and a half as Trent Barrett and assistant Danny Buderus worked on their combinations and set plays with five-eighth Jarrod Mullen playing a prominent role.
North Queensland powerhouse Tariq Sims was another who was heavily involved while James McManus continually barked instructions from the wing and Scott said the whole squad enjoyed working under Barrett.
"He's really good, very organised and keeps it simple enough for the boys but definitely got them ready," he said of Barrett.
Scott, who also took time to compliment the facilities at Apex Oval, played his junior rugby league with The Oaks Tigers in Group 6 and now at the Newcastle Knights, he said he always enjoyed getting back to Country areas.
"I started playing in about the under-6s out at The Oaks, running around with my brother on all those crisp mornings so I played all my football out in Group 6 area then moved to Picton when I was a bit older," he said.
"The origins of rugby league are in the country areas and being in the position we're in now, we give back all we can."
As someone who values bush footy, Scott said it was honour when he was told by Barrett he would lead the team and added it made him more determined to taste success in the Country jersey for the first time.
"I got the call last week and I was over the moon to be honest, my old man rang me and I think he was even more over the moon and he's very excited for me," he said.
"I've played twice for Country and haven't managed to get the cookies yet so it's a definite goal on Sunday to take it home."