ON TV, Queensland captain Cameron Smith thought Coen Hess looked big.
Then he finally saw the North Queensland backrower up close and personal for the first time at the Maroons’ State of Origin game two camp.
“It is the first time I have seen him in real life,” Smith said of the 20-year-old Queensland rookie.
“I watched him on telly and he’s big but I met him at the camp and he’s bigger.”
Smith said he had never played against or even met the much-hyped Hess until introduced to the rising star at the Maroons’ Gold Coast camp ahead of Wednesday night’s Origin showdown in Sydney.
Hess was the subject of a tug of war after his Cowboys coach Paul Green claimed the barnstorming back-rower was not ready for Origin ahead of game two.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters picked Hess regardless but slapped a media ban on him, further sparking debate whether the youngster could take the step up.
But 40 Origin game veteran Smith believed the occasion would not be a problem for Hess, despite the youngster being picked after just 22 NRL games. Smith said Hess had been the standout of Queensland’s four debutants during their Gold Coast camp.
The others are bolter Tim Glasby, starting prop Jarrod Wallace and winger Valentine Holmes.
“I have been impressed with Coen Hess,” Smith said of the youngster, who was named on the Maroons bench with Glasby.
“It’s a funny thing, young guys these days coming into big matches they don’t seem to be fazed by it.
“I remember my first game and I couldn’t stop the thoughts going through my head but for these guys it’s another football game.
Hess’ explosive edge running has bagged 10 tries this NRL season. Maroons bench utility Michael Morgan said Queensland teammates were genuinely excited by what Hess could do in Origin II.
“It’s a great reward. He’s had 20-something games and to be in this side already means he is doing something right,” Morgan said of his Cowboys teammate.
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