They're going to be the enemy next week at Suncorp Stadium but Jordan McLean believes his North Queensland NRL teammates have secured him a NSW jersey.
McLean, 30, will become the sixth-oldest Blues' debutant in State of Origin history in next week's decider at Suncorp Stadium after being named as the replacement for the injured Payne Haas.
Named ahead of Parramatta's Reagan Campbell-Gillard, McLean says the stellar NRL form of the Cowboys has gone a long way to realising his Origin dream.
When he takes the field against the Maroons, McLean will be facing four of his Cowboys' teammates with Queensland naming Tom Gilbert to debut alongside Valentine Holmes, Murray Taulagi and Jeremiah Nanai.
"I should be thanking them for me being in the team really, because everyone's probably helped me this year get back to some good football," McLean said.
"It's great to see those boys getting their opportunity as well.
But come game time, it's me versus them."
A part of Australia's 2017 World Cup winning-team, McLean was close to a Blues debut that same year as he helped Melbourne to the premiership.
His move to Townsville ahead of the 2018 season has been marred by injuries, while the Cowboys' own on-field struggles meant it looked like an Origin debut had passed him by.
Given the chance, McLean is eager to make it count as NSW look to win a decider in Brisbane for the first time since 2005.
"No goal of playing for the Blues this year at all and definitely, I thought the ship had sailed with that," he said.
"The last couple of years I probably haven't enjoyed my football as much as I probably should have.
"But I suppose whatever you do in life, if you're enjoying it, there's a good chance you're going to be doing your best at whatever you're doing.
"So I'm just pinching myself that I'm here making my debut."
The Blues, who are staying in the northern NSW beachside community of Kingscliff before heading to Brisbane next week, spent Tuesday afternoon in the flood-affected town of Lismore.
Coach Brad Fittler and former great Greg Alexander launched a new road safety campaign at Oakes Oval, before a group of 1000 local teenagers and their families impacted by the devastating floods in February got to watch the team train.
McLean said the experience had been humbling and eye-opening for the entire squad.
"You see it on the news and then it kind of goes off the news but the effect that the floods have are heavy and still ongoing 16 weeks later," he said.
"It is devastating, so it's very easy for us to come out here and put a smile on kids' faces."
Australian Associated Press
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