After 12 State of Origin games, Michael Jennings is starting to believe he’s an on-field leader for NSW.
When NSW run out for their State of Origin series opener against Queensland at ANZ Stadium on Wednesday, Jennings will be the equal most experienced player in the Blues side along with five-eighth Mitchell Pearce.
When he started his NRL career at Penrith in 2007, never did he believe that just eight years later he would be viewed as a senior statesman of his state side.
NSW coach Laurie Daley has ushered in new blood this year with Josh Jackson and David Klemmer coming into the team at the expense of Luke Lewis and Anthony Watmough.
Greg Bird (suspension) and Paul Gallen (injury) have also been sidelined, leaving the side with a dearth of experience.
“I never thought I would play this many games or be in this position I am now,” Jennings said.
“I’m just taking it all on board. I’m still learning. Knowing I’m a role model now and knowing I’ve got a lot of experience, I realise I’ve got to show a bit more leadership, help out the new boys and better my game by bettering someone else’s.”
Barring injury, the Sydney Roosters centre will bring up his 200th NRL game early next season.
When talking about his original goals when he came into grade, he echoes the famous words of former Blues teammate Jarryd Hayne, saying he only wanted to buy his mum a house.
While Jennings has ticked off everything on his list of goals he said he was still finding ways to keep himself motivated.
“My ultimate goal was to play first grade and buy my mum a house. To get to this level I am now is just crazy … there’s a responsibility now and I can see I can achieve more.
“I always set myself little goals that keep me motivated and keep me going.”