Hess can impress on game's biggest stage
QUEENSLAND captain Cameron Smith says Coen Hess has the chance to seal a long Origin tenure if he grabs his chance on debut tonight.
Smith said the "moving on” of Maroons stalwarts had created openings that would allow tonight's four debutants to secure a longterm place in the Queensland team if they grabbed their opportunity.
At just 20, Hess can replicate the career of a player such as Nate Myles, and seal a maroon jersey for the next decade.
"There's an opportunity for these young guys to have a long career there,” Smith said.
"You look at guys like Sam Thaiday, Nate Myles and Jacob Lillyman and Aidan Guerra, they were part of this team for a long time because they played well and played consistently.
"These new guys coming in, there's the same opportunity there for them, they just need to grasp the opportunity and do the very best they can with it.”
Smith is hoping NSW will be as wowed by the physical presence of Hess tonight as he has been.
"I've been really impressed with how big Coen Hess is. It's the first time I've seen him in real life,” Smith said of the 190cm, 111kg back-rower.
"I've seen him on telly and he looked big ... he's bigger in real life.”
Smith is expecting Hess to fire in the Origin arena if he performs like he has for the Cowboys this season, where he has dominated his edge to score 10 tries in 13 games.
"He's been fantastic. He's 20, he turns 21 next month, and he's a confident kid,” Smith said.
"That's the funny thing, I was talking to a couple of people through the week about young guys these days coming into these big matches, it's like they don't get fazed by it, they don't get nervous.
"I remember my first game, I couldn't stop the thoughts running through my head about what was going to happen, or how I was going to play.
"But these guys, it's another football game for them. It obviously means a lot to them but they're very confident within themselves that they can go out and play well and they don't worry about too much else, which is great - it's great for us.”
Hess has been largely shielded from the media ahead of his debut but said he was looking forward to achieving his "dream” of playing for Queensland.
"I watched the game (OriginI) on TV and the speed of the game was unreal. You could see that through the television screen,” Hess said.
"I guess I won't really know what to expect until I'm out there but I'll obviously give it my all. It'll be a really big learning curve for me and be a massive step in my career and I'm really looking forward to it.”
Hess' Cowboys teammates Michael Morgan and Gavin Cooper have backed him to succeed tonight.
"It's exciting for him, it's a massive challenge for him,” Morgan said.
"He is a very strong ball runner and there is no doubt that NSW will be focusing on him when he comes on the field and try to limit his opportunities as well so I really hope he can make a good impact.”
"I no way expect to go out there and set the world on fire. As his teammate, you expect him to go out there and do his job that is expected of him.
"If he does things outside of that that are better then that's great but he is here to do a job and anything more than that is a bonus.”
Cooper said while everyone was focused on Hess' size - "he's 15kg bigger than everyone else” - it was his curiosity that was one of his biggest assets.
"He is willing to learn all the time ... some of the kids may not be comfortable asking whereas he is,” he said.
"He has bought into it (the Cowboys system) ... and I think that's what he will be doing on Wednesday night, he will be running around like a chook with its head cut off.”