Ipswich stars to tackle NSW
THE State of Origin decider may be two weeks away but for four Ipswich rugby union players, today is their Origin.
Ipswich Rangers representatives Josh Sio, Dan Egan, Silas Cocks and Tom Dwyer will line up for Queensland Subdistricts as they attempt to wrest the Baraclough Shield from NSW Subdistricts in Sydney this afternoon.
The match is a curtain-raiser for the Wallabies' third Test against Wales at the Sydney Football Stadium.
It is the Baraclough Shield debut for all except Egan, who played in 2007.
The second rower has given his teammates an indication of what to expect.
"It's 100 miles an hour," Egan said.
"Really quick, like finals footy.
"It's our version of State of Origin."
The Queensland squad has been in training for eight weeks and the Rangers lads are confident they'll be ready to perform this afternoon.
"The last couple of team runs have been really good," fullback Dwyer said.
Helping the Queenslanders, in the forwards at least, is the presence of club combinations.
Egan and Sio will lock the second row with Cocks in the back row.
"It's good because we play together every week," Egan said.
The front row is from ladder leaders Wynnum and the three Rangers forwards are happy about that.
But the NSW opposition is not the only thing that could conspire against the Queenslanders, with the crowd another potential hazard.
The Test match following it is sold out so it is estimated there could be up to 10,000 in the stands for the Subbies game.
Sio has some experience in such surrounds, having played in a Test curtain-raiser previously for Brisbane Norths.
"Stadium rugby is so much different to park footy," Sio said.
"The noise is deafening.
"It can overcome you so you have to be ready."
But there could be an upside with the Queenslanders less likely to hear the bagging coming from the NSW crowd.
"It will be nice not to hear the abuse from some bloke on the sideline telling us we're rubbish," Egan said.
Win, lose or draw, the experience should be of benefit to Rangers, with the four likely to come back more confident players.
The selection of the four is also an endorsement of how Rangers, 2011 Barber Cup runners-up, are travelling this season.
"I don't think Rangers have had more than three blokes in the Subbies side before," Dwyer said.
"Our forwards (at Rangers) are really strong this year and it shows."
- Tom Dwyer and Silas Cocks have been Ipswich Rangers since their junior days.
- Josh Sio, standing 198cm tall, has played premier rugby for Norths and is in his second season with Rangers.
- Dan Egan is in his first season with Rangers, having spent the last four years in the UK. Before that he played Barber Cup for Wynnum.
- Cocks, 21, is the youngest player in the Queensland Subdistricts squad while Egan, 30, is the oldest of the four Rangers players.