It isn’t just the big names of league that are in the spotlight during Origin – some local stars of tomorrow had their opportunity to play on the game’s biggest stage.
For these young league fans, the chance to live out their State of Origin dreams and play on the same field as and learn from their NRL heroes has become a reality.
Students from UC Kaleen High School and Young High School played at GIO Stadium – in their NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons jerseys – at half-time of the Ampol Women’s State of Origin.
They won the chance through the Ampol Little Origin program, designed to help develop new talent and support school-level sports.
For the students, the experience extended beyond game day.
Ahead of their half-time clash, the students were given coaching from Australian sports people and stars of the game, including NSW Sky Blues and Parramatta Eels player Botille Vette-Welsh, former Canberra Raiders skipper and 2017 ACT Australian of the Year Alan Tongue, and surf lifesaving champion Lana Rogers.
They ran a skills clinic with the high school students, working on a variety of skills, from running to ball handling and more before the game, and presenting them with their official Blues and Maroons State of Origins jerseys.
Ampol’s Little Origin program is designed to nurture young talent in schools, with a $5,000 grant from Ampol to aid with school initiatives and grassroots sport, improve education and help develop the footy stars of tomorrow.
(For the record, league was the winner on the day.)