Nathan Merrit gets State of Origin 2 callup

IAN MCCULLOUGH
Last updated 14:41 18/06/2013
Nathan Merritt
Getty Images
LONG-AWAITED DEBUT: Nathan Merritt made his debut for NSW in State of Origin Game II.

Relevant offers

League

Team-by-team guide to 2015 NRL season New Zealand Warriors may focus recruitment sights on England He won the golden boot last year as the world's best league player but Shaun Johnson is just getting warmed up Former Titans Ashley Harrison and Steve Michaels the latest players embroiled in cocaine scandal Rising Kiwis star Jason Taumalolo set to reject offer from Warriors and stay with the Cowboys Justin Hodges named as captain of the Brisbane Broncos Tim Sheens to stay on as coach of the Kangaroos after signing a one-year extension Ex Gold Coast Titans failed internal drug tests: report Kevin Locke's Scottish rugby move looks imminent Hard cash behind Melbourne Storm's trip to Napier, nothing else

Nathan Merritt admits he'd virtually given up all hope of ever playing for NSW before receiving a phone call from Blues coach Laurie Daley on Tuesday morning.

The 30-year-old South Sydney winger was called into the team to face Queensland in Brisbane next Wednesday after Blake Ferguson was stood down on Monday night.

The Canberra winger was charged with indecent assault following an alleged incident at Cronulla nightspot on Sunday night.

Merritt has been knocking at the door for Origin selection for several years and felt his chance had passed despite having scored 148 tries in 213 NRL matches.

"I just thought I'd never get the chance and I am grateful for it," Merritt said at the NSW team hotel just an hour after finding out he was in the side.

"I thought the opportunity had gone and I'd like to thank Laurie for giving me the chance and now I can show what I have got.

"But it's about keeping the shirt now and putting my best foot forward."

Daley was initially unable to contact Merritt after deciding he was the right man to replace Ferguson as he was in a pilates session.

But when he did finally get the news he said the first person he was able to share it with was his father.

"I smiled so much it hurt and it was a moment I will always remember," he said.

"As I walked out to training, my old man was walking in and he knew more than me. We embraced and cuddled, then I told my fiancee ... they were all very, very happy."

Although delighted at being given the chance on the biggest stage, Merritt said he felt sympathy for the plight of Ferguson and said the 23-year-old needs proper help to overcome his problems.

"Hopefully Blake is being surrounded by the right people and they try to keep him calm," he said.

"He needs to get his mind back on the job, get away for a while, freshen up and then see where he goes from there."

Merritt also said he sensed no signs of a lack of morale amongst his new teammates when he walked into the team hotel in Coogee for the first time.

"They were all playing games and laughing around with each other. I didn't detect any problems."

"I am looking forward to getting to know them all." 

Ad Feedback

- AAP

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who is your pick for international league player of the year?

Shaun Johnson

Jesse Bromwich

Sam Burgess

James Graham

Greg Inglis

Johnathan Thurston

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content