When Dyldam Parramatta Eels NYC five-eighth Ryan Matterson runs out for the Blues in the annual Under 20s State of Origin fixture this weekend, he’ll be taking a little inspiration from his family tree.
The Eels Holden Cup Captain says the moment will have extra meaning for him knowing that his uncle, Terry Matterson, also played for the Blues.
The current North Queensland Cowboys Assistant Coach and two-time premiership winner is best known for his career in the Broncos jersey, including the 1992 and 1993 premierships, and his induction into the Broncos hall of fame.
But Terry also stepped into the sky blue jersey at Lang Park for Game 2 in the 1989 State of Origin series, in place of the injured Bradley Clyde, and 27 years later 19-year-old ‘Matto’ will get his first taste of interstate rivalry in the junior Blues.
“I was just lost for words [when I found out],” Ryan said.
“I was just so stoked to get the opportunity, and I’m looking forward to representing the state and also my family.”
His uncle, Terry, says that while winning a Premiership is the pinnacle of any footy career, the State vs State experience is something unlike any other.
“We worked really hard to win a premiership [at the Broncos] and at the end, that’s why you play rugby league,” Terry said.
“But pulling on a Blues jersey ... the occasion, the crowd.”
“1989 was pretty special, playing against Lewis, Meninga, Miles, Langer. Playing at Lang Park as well was pretty special. And now my old Broncos teammate Kevvy Walters will be coaching the Queensland side [for the Under 20s match].”
After seeing him in action against the North Queensland Cowboys in Round 8, Terry says there is one thing he wishes he could borrow from his nephew, who - unusally for a five-eighth - stands at more than 190cm.
“I wish I had his size when I was playing,” Terry said.
“I thought he was outstanding last week. I’m just really impressed with how he’s been going. I think if he just plays his own game and goes out and enjoys the experience and enjoys the night, I’m sure he’ll do well.”
The Under 20s Origin match kicks off at 5.30pm on Saturday, May 3, at Penrith's Sportingbet Stadium, followed by the Fiji Bati v Toa Samoa Pacific Test match. Click through to buy your tickets!