McInally on Origin stage in chance to impress NRL scouts
IPSWICH Jets winger Jarrod McInally almost ruined his chance of representing Queensland when he was told of his selection in the Residents' squad this week.
McInally, Jets centre Donald Malone and forward Nat Neale were the three Jets players picked in the squad to take on NSW Residents in the curtain-raiser to State of Origin III in Sydney next Wednesday night.
While Malone has represented the team on several occasions, McInally nearly did himself an injury when he heard of his maiden selection.
"I didn't think in my wildest dreams I'd have got the call," said the carpenter, who was working on a roof at the time.
"I nearly fell of the roof when I was told."
McInally thought there were better wingers around and his chance, at 24, had passed.
"It's a big competition," he said of the Queensland Cup, from which the Queensland Residents were chosen.
"There's a lot of teams and good players, including contracted NRL players. And I'm not one of them."
Winger McInally has enjoyed playing outside centre Malone on the Jets' left-hand side.
The presence of the man known as "Duck" is more than welcome in the Residents team.
Last year Malone inspired Queensland's win in the corresponding game, setting up tries with his ability to break open the NSW defence.
McInally has learned where to be to profit whenever Malone makes a trademark break.
"It gives me a bit more confidence," McInally said.
"You never know what can happen when you're out there with Duck.
"It's also good to have a mate up there."
The Queensland Residents squad meets at the Gold Coast today for a three-day camp before heading to Sydney on Monday.
It is the first taste of senior representative rugby for former Ipswich Brothers junior McInally.
The game represents the highest standard of rugby league outside the NRL so a quality performance will be noticed by NRL scouts.
While McInally is not expecting his performance on Wednesday to have agents knocking, neither has he given up hope of one day cracking the big time.
"I'll definitely try to make the most of it," he said.
"Whatever comes, comes.
"Everything happens for a reason. I suppose I'm getting to the age (where the chance of playing NRL has passed).
"You always hope and it's what you're always pulling towards.
"I wouldn't say I lost hope.
"But I'm happy where I am."
McInally has all the attributes to succeed at a higher level.
He is tall, fast, strong, athletic, good under the high ball with an impressive ability to leap high for the ball.
He is determined and professional in his approach, hard working and a committed team player.
So if he does get on to the end of some Malone magic and make the most of Wednesday's game, NRL clubs could do a lot worse than give him a chance.
"It is an opportunity to impress," McInally said.
"My job will be getting back and helping out the fullback and returning the ball well.
"I'm just going out to try my best and hopefully get a win for Queensland."
McInally knows it is not worth wasting time on what might or might not happen beyond his control.
He has reached the point in his life where he is happy with what he's got.
"It's probably just life improvement," he said.
"I'm happy with my lifestyle, work and my girlfriend."
Anything else is a bonus.