THE last time Dylan Napa donned the famous Queensland jumper he struggled to be in the same room as his superstar teammates.
The year was 2015 and Napa received a call-up as 18th man for games 1 and 3 of the series.
“I was pretty overwhelmed,” Napa reflects, shaking his head.
“It was that crazy team that went on that big streak (eight Origins in a row) and I couldn’t really take it all in because I was a bit nervous.
“They are just footballers, but they’ll have their own statues down in Sydney. Hopefully I can join it (the Queensland) team one day.”
Flash forward two seasons and a matured Napa insists he is ready to make his run-on debut for the Maroons.
The Roosters firebrand has served his 12-month ban from Origin for breaking curfew in last year’s emerging camp, now he wants to make amends on the game’s greatest stage.
“I feel like I’ve been ready for it (Origin) for a few years now,” he said. “It wasn’t to be last year.
“I think it’s a goal of most players in the NRL to represent their state, but it’s only been two weeks in the NRL. But first and foremost my job is to perform for the Roosters, otherwise with the talent we have in our squad this year I might not even get in the team.”
Matt Scott’s season-ending ACL knee injury could open the door for Napa to represent Queensland this year.
The Roosters forward is currently locked in a dual with new Bronco Korbin Sims to replace Scott in the Queensland engine room. Napa, though, is refusing to look at Scott’s injury as his opening to the Origin arena.
“I would never think of it that way,” he said.
“It’s a season-ending injury and in the second week of the season, so I feel really sorry for Matt and he is going to have a long road to recovery. But he is a professional and he’ll probably be back out there sooner rather than later.
“I was 18th man with Matt in the Origin team and I’ve got the utmost respect for him.
“He has been at the top of the game and his position for over 10 years and I’ve got so much respect for what he has done and how he has respected the Queensland, Australian and NRL jumper.
“I wish him all the best in his recovery and a lot of people could take a lot of lessons from how to be a man and a football player.”