LITTLE did A.J Elder know at the time that his efforts for the Ipswich Diggers indigenous team would present him the chance of a lifetime.
Elder will live the dream when he joins his teammates for the Indigenous All Stars under-16s camp next week.
They will play the NSW Indigenous under-16s in the curtain-raiser to the senior Indigenous All Stars game, at Suncorp Stadium next Saturday.
As halfback the Redbank Plains Bears junior will get the chance to get close to his favourite player, Johnathan Thurston.
Elder and fellow Ipswich product Joel Munt were both picked in the Queensland under-15 indigenous side to tour Papua New Guinea last year.
They were rewarded for their stand-out performances for the Ipswich Diggers Indigenous side at the Queensland Indigenous Carnival, held at Briggs Road, Ipswich last year.
The pair got a surprise by the strength of the two PNG teams they played - a school team and the national under-15s team.
The Aussies lost both games.
"They were big," Elder said.
The tour doubled as a trial for the All Stars game.
"It surprised me," Elder said of his selection.
"I just played my hardest to try and get picked."
While he obviously played well, Elder didn't find out about his selection in the All Stars game until this year.
It has been a rapid rise for the St Peters Claver College student.
His previous representative honours include Met West and the Ipswich under 16s so this is a big step up, particularly given the crowd he will get to play in front of at Suncorp Stadium.
"I've been dreaming to get to this," Elder said.
"It's a big honour.
"I'm ready for it and I'm going to give it all I have."
I've been dreaming to get to this. It's a big honour. I'm ready for it and I'm going to give it all I have.
Elder expects nothing less will be good enough if he and his teammates are going to get a win over the NSW Koori team.
Then there is the prospect of meeting Thurston and the other indigenous All Stars.
"We have dinner and training with them," Elder said.
"I'll say g'day.
"But it will be a bit weird being with them in camp."
We have dinner and training with them. I'll say g'day. But it will be a bit weird being with them in camp.
- Favourite player: Johnathan Thurston
- Best advice: Train hard and good things will come.
- Favourite pre-match meal: Fried rice
- Biggest influence: My mum and nan
- Pre-match routine: Keep it quiet and think about what I've got to do
- Person you'd most like to be stuck in an elevator with: Johnathan Thurston