After spending the first seven years of his NRL career watching State of Origin from the sidelines, Jack de Belin knows he has an opportunity to do something only one Blues side has done in the past 12 years.
Win a State of Origin series.
And like the 2014 team that hoisted the shield after claiming a thrilling two-point victory in Game Two at ANZ Stadium, the current side has the opportunity to wrap up the series with a victory in front of their home fans.
The Blues were in this exact position last year, however, and de Belin knows the Maroons will be determined to send the series to a decider in Brisbane. It’s a situation the NSW lock is desperate to avoid.
“It’s pretty important we win game two and wrap up the series,” de Belin said. “Obviously it’s a lot easier to lock it up in Sydney in front of all our fans.
“Suncorp’s a pretty tough stadium to play at, especially when it’s painted maroon, which it will be for game three, win or lose. We’ve set ourselves up, we’re in prime position with the first win, so if we get the second one we’re home.
“Queensland are going to have a lot of fight. The series is on the line for them, and it’s on the line for us as well. We’ve both got a lot to play for, they’re going to be extra hungry to tie it up and take it back to Queensland.”
After featuring as 18th man for the Blues in 2017, de Belin made his Origin debut in last week’s clash and while he noticed the rise in intensity, it’s an environment he instantly felt comfortable in.
“It was the experience of a lifetime, I really enjoyed it and it was extra sweet because we got the win. Overall, the game was quick, but it wasn’t crazy quick where I felt like I was off my feet pretty early.
“It’s a bit more than a club game for sure, the intensity, the speed. It’s obviously a step up, but if you’re ready for that mentally, which I was, it didn’t feel like anything out of the ordinary.”
The Dragons lock will line up opposite NSW teammate and Manly counterpart Jake Trbojevic when St George Illawarra take on the Sea Eagles at WIN Stadium on Saturday night.
After spending a week in camp alongside the 24-year-old, de Belin knows the Dragons have their work cut out for them on Saturday.
“He’s a good player, he’s a toiler, he works really hard and you’re never going to get let down by someone like him. He’s got a great connection there with his brother [Tom], they obviously play very well together.
“It will be good coming up against him, I love testing myself against the best locks and I feel I do a pretty good job against someone that’s ahead of me or is in a spot in a rep team ahead of me.”
De Belin’s comments came as the Dragons unveiled the latest signings for their NRL Women’s side. Corrimal junior Rikeyah Horne headlines a group featuring Jillaroo Jessica Sergis, Oneata Schwalger and Kiwi Ferns stars Honey Hireme and Raecene McGregor.
“Honey is a major signing for us,” Women’s coach Daniel Lacey said. “She fits into that mould of players we want here.
“We’ve got those locals, those young girls coming through, one of them’s Rikeyah Horne, she was just in our Tarsha Gale system only last year, so the likes of her playing centre or the opposite wing with someone like Honey, she’s only going to benefit from that.”