Tom not getting caught up in hype
Having lost nine of the past 10 State of Origin series, former NSW Blues legend Andrew Johns has called for mass changes, including the blooding of young talent.
One name he put forward was Tom Trbojevic, the 2015 Sea Eagles Holden Cup star who has since taken the NRL by storm.
Trbojevic, who has played both fullback and on the wing, is currently seventh in the NRL in running metres (768) and also sits eighth for try assists, with four after five games.
His hot start to 2016 comes on the back of his imperious 2015, where he scored eight tries in nine games in first grade, and 21 tries in 13 matches in the Holden Cup, where he also averaged 258 metres a game.
Trbojevic says he was humbled to receive such high praise from the game's eighth Immortal, but admitted playing Origin as a 19-year-old was something he hadn't really considered.
The Manly youngster said he has no idea if he is ready to handle the game's fiercest rivalry, and is instead choosing to focus on his club football.
"I've never been out there, I've never played Origin, so I'm not too sure…I think it's a little bit premature," the Sea Eagles winger said.
"Obviously I do dream about playing Origin one day but right now I'm just focussing on my role in this team and doing the best for the boys out there and hopefully getting a few more wins on the board.
"It does [mean a lot] to hear it from a player of Andrew Johns' calibre, but like I said, I'm trying to keep a level head and not really focus on playing Origin. I'm focussing on playing for Manly and doing the best job for the team."
Tom isn’t the only Trbojevic at the Sea Eagles touted as a future Blue, with older brother Jake earning high praise for his tireless efforts in the forwards.
The eldest Trbojevic is in awe of what his younger brother has done in 2016, and believes he would have no problem handling the intensity that Origin brings.
"I haven't thought about it too much, obviously he's pretty young so it hasn't really crossed my mind," Trbojevic said when asked about his younger brother's Origin prospects.
"But in saying that if he's picked he'd definitely handle it. He'd put his best foot forward and he wouldn't look out of place out there.
"We're all very proud of how Tom's going, it's exciting to see him doing well but it's only early days in the season, he's got to keep it up for the rest of the year.
"He's put on a bit of size and looking stronger when he's running the footy and he's a bit busier. It's been good for him this year but in saying that it is only Round 5."
Jake Trbojevic admitted playing Origin is something he'd like to achieve down the track, but like his brother, isn't looking that far ahead.
"Definitely, I think it's a goal for everyone who plays footy, you want to play rep footy," he said.
"But again, I honestly haven't thought about that too much. I just want to play good footy for Manly but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to play Origin.
"Everyone who plays the game wants to play Origin and for their country, that's the sort of stuff you dream of doing but I've just got to play good footy for Manly."
One man who is a better judge than most is the Trbojevic brothers' club captain, Jamie Lyon; himself a former State of Origin star.
The Sea Eagles skipper said the siblings have been in terrific form for Manly and is confident they will both represent the Blues; even if that means having to bide their time.
"He [Tom] is playing well. He's improving every week as well. He's such a good young kid and he doesn't shirk the tough stuff. He's playing some good footy and it's good to see," Lyon said.
"I don't really like putting too much pressure on the young kids – himself and Jake – I'm sure they'll be in the side eventually. Whenever that is it's just a matter of time. As long as they're playing for Manly we're happy.
"The way those two have really handled themselves, I think they'd definitely be fine if they got thrown into that environment."
This article was first published on NRL.com.
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