If there’s anyone that can sympathise with how Wade Graham is feeling, it’s the man who’s replacing him.
Just an hour after touching down in Coffs Harbour, Tyson Frizell was rushed onto the training paddock for NSW to prepare for his State of Origin debut on Wednesday after fellow rookie Graham was ruled out when suspended at a NRL judiciary hearing.
Both players joined the rest of Blues squad in their second field session of the week.
However, while Frizell will go with the team to Brisbane on Sunday ahead of game two, Graham will head home to Sydney after being denied his debut.
St George Illawarra forward Frizell knew something of what his former Cronulla teammate was feeling, having been a part of the NSW squad for three previous camps without playing a game.
“I feel for Wade. He’s in a similar position as me, but very difficult for him to come to terms with it and I can understand that,” Frizell said.
A shadow player for game one, as he was for two Origin matches last year, Frizell was again overlooked for Graham when Boyd Cordner was ruled out after injuring his foot in the 2016 series opener.
The 25-year-old Frizell admitted fearing his chance would never come.
Asked whether his previous near-misses became disheartening, Frizell said: “It did there a bit. You get so close and then you’re not right there.
“But that only drove me to want to do well and hopefully find my way into this team.”
But he also said his three previous camps had a silver lining.
“If I didn’t have that experience, today would probably be a bit nerve-wracking for myself,” he said.
“But I’m ready to go. I just can’t wait to go out there and play. Speaking to (coach Laurie Daley), not too much has changed for us.
“I know the systems around the team and I’ll just go straight in there.”
Ironically Frizell was once replaced by Graham.
Frizell was a left-edge specialist when he made his NRL debut with Cronulla in 2011, but left for greener pastures one year later when Graham arrived from Penrith and entrenched himself in the second row.
“As funny as it is, he (Graham) is pretty pumped for me, which is the way he’s handled himself the last few hours,” said Frizell.
“He’s an awesome player and he’s definitely going to be back here again.
“I started my career with Wade and he’s a great person. It’s difficult to see him leave the squad like he did. He’ll be back for sure.”