Ready to step up for Origin

Published 9:00am 20 June 2023

Ready to step up for Origin
Words by Kylie Knight
Photo: Erick Lucero/QRL

Corey Horsburgh is not sure if he will get the chance to play on Wednesday night but if he’s called on to make his Maroons debut, it will be a special moment for him and his family.

Running out for Queensland would be the realisation of a childhood dream for the 19th man, who started playing as a kid at Caboolture and then Redcliffe.

The 25-year-old Canberra Raiders lock is excited to be in Origin camp for the first time and lists his childhood footy heroes as Corey Parker, Matt Scott and Petero Civoniceva. Three players who wore the Maroons jersey with pride.

Speaking to QRL Media, Horsburgh said he started playing as a six-year-old at Caboolture before playing at Burpengary and then for the Redcliffe Dolphins (listed as his junior club).

The game was a big part of family life for the Horsburghs.

“I think because the old boy played it as a kid, me and me brother played and obviously every day we were out the front playing chip and chase footy or something silly like that. My sister played also,” he said in a video on the QRL website.

“I think it was just from my dad and the love he had for it. I’ve been a footy head probably my whole life.”

He said his father had been the biggest influence on him, since he started playing.

“He tells me how it is ... if I’ve played bad or played good. He loves his footy and he means a lot to me and my family. And my mum too. She’s the rock of the family, she’s not as footy-headed so she’s good to talk to,” Horsburgh said.

He was pleasantly surprised to receive a call from Coach Billy Slater to say he had been selected for the extended squad and said he would soak up the experience and advice from teammates like a sponge.

Slater said Corey had earnt his place in the squad.

“He doesn’t get much closer than where he is, does he? The next step is being in the team. We don’t just put people in those positions – 18 and 19 for the sake of it. They need to earn that opportunity and Corey’s certainly done that and he’s done that through his actions and done it through the habits he’s built in his game,” Slater said when announcing the team.

“They (AJ Brimson and Horsburgh) are not just here to make up the numbers. If they’re needed, we’ll have confidence to see them run out in a maroon jersey.”

He’s confident the side will take their game up another gear for game two and he’s expecting the blues to play better than they did in game one.

Slater said the crowd would bring the atmosphere, but the team would need to bring their best game to win.

Players with Dolphins connections

Xavier Coates, winger

It will be Coates’ first Origin game since the opening match of the 2022 series in Sydney, where injury cut short his time on the field. He’s in for Selwyn Cobbo, who is still dealing with a hip injury.

He played one game for the Redcliffe Dolphins in 2020, during his time at the Brisbane Broncos, before the season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The 22-year-old winger went on to join the Melbourne Storm at the end of 2021. He has played six Origin games, making his debut in 2020.

Dolphins Group CEO Tony Murphy said Coates had impact in that one memorable game against the Sunshine Coast Falcons, which the Dolphins won 22-16.

“He came to us through the Broncos, scoring two tries in that game, then COVID got in the road. He’s a tall winger, that’s how he scored those tries,” he said.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow – The Hammer (centre)

The Dolphins’ NRL fullback Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, aka The Hammer, retains his position as centre for game two after a strong performance in game one, including two tries in the 26-18 win over the Blues.

The Hammer, 21, debuted for Queensland in the final game of the 2021 series and has had an electrifying start to the 2023 season with the Dolphins after making the move from the North Queensland Cowboys.

He’s been playing so well for the Dolphins that his contact was extended to five years in April. He will be with the club until at least the end of the 2027 season.

Daly Cherry-Evans (Captain and halfback), Dolphins junior

The Manly Warringah Sea Eagles halfback and captain is leading the Maroons for the fifth consecutive series.

He played for the Dolphins from under-7s to under-11s, before moving to Mackay.

Cherry-Evans returned to complete Year 12 at Redcliffe State High School, playing for the school team and chasing his rugby league dream.

His father and grandfather both played first grade for the Redcliffe Dolphins.

“It’s the place where it all began for me. I was born in Redcliffe Hospital, I come from a family with strong ties to rugby league – my dad played, all of my uncles played, some for Redcliffe,” Cherry-Evans told Moreton Daily last year.

“I never really had a choice to play rugby league but luckily for me I did enjoy it and I haven’t looked back. At five years old, I got to play my first game at the Dolphins and I haven’t missed a season (of league) since.”

Thomas Flegler (Prop)

Front rower Tom Flegler is back in the side for game two after playing his first match for the Maroons, in game one, since making his debut in the final game of the 2021 series.

He will be looking to avoid the sin bin this time around, after being sent off in the 68th minute in game one.

The current Brisbane Broncos player, 23, has signed with the Dolphins and will join the squad in 2024 on a four-year deal.

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