Origin 2022: Scott Sattler’s sound advice for mature-aged rookie Jordan McLean

Martin GaborNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: Supplied

It’s pretty rare to hear a Queenslander praise a New South Welshman just days out from a State of Origin decider, but the rules go out the window when you’re part of an exclusive club that blurs all state lines.

North Queensland’s Jordan McLean will become the fifth-oldest player to pull on a Blues jersey when the 30-year-old starts at prop for the decider in Brisbane next Wednesday.

It’s one of the most daunting prospects any debutant could ask for, but his big-game experience in back-to-back grand finals for the Storm in 2016 and 2017, as well as eight Tests for the Kangaroos, has him ready for this moment according to former Maroon Scott Sattler.

The man who made one of the most famous tackles in grand final history knows exactly how McLean is feeling given there are only three players in Origin history to have debuted later in life than Sattler.

He was 31 years and 194 days when he played his one and only game in 2003, and even he was rocked by the enormity of the situation.

“I’ve never felt my body shake internally like when it did when NSW ran onto ANZ Stadium that night,” Sattler told NCA NewsWire.

“He’s probably going to feel that when he runs onto Suncorp Stadium, but he has played in grand finals and for his country so he featured in bigger games than I ever did.

“He’ll naturally be nervous because there’s so much at stake, but I think he’ll find the preparation a lot easier than someone like (Queensland rookie) Tom Gilbert who is a lot younger and is getting ready for the biggest game of his life.”

Sattler’s time in camp was made a bit easier because he had played so much footy with and against some of Queensland’s legends, but he said it felt strange to make his debut with younger teammates who were already veterans of the representative stage.

“You still go into the camp like a kid in a candy store,” he said.

“You grow up all your life wanting to play for the Kangaroos and your state, so it doesn’t matter what age you are because you’re living out a childhood dream.

“To be amongst players who you’ve played a lot of rugby league with and against can be a weird feeling, especially if you’ve achieved more on the field than some of them in terms of premierships or the number of games you’ve played.

JUNE 20, 2003 : Queensland State of Origin RL footballer Scott Sattler 20/06/03. Pic David Kapernick.
Rugby League P/
Camera IconScott Sattler after he was picked to play for Queensland. David Kapernick Credit: News Corp Australia

“I wouldn’t say I was quiet because I had a really good relationship with some of the guys in that camp like Gordie Tallis and Petero Civoniceva. In this day and age in the professional era, you’re around the other players a fair bit in social situations or in certain rep teams.

“I was 31 when I went in and it was unfamiliar territory because you’ve got guys in camp who have played 15 or 20 Origins, so it’s just like turning up at training for them.

“For me, I was a fish out of water because I wasn’t sure of the surroundings and what I could or couldn’t do.”

McLean is looking to follow in the footsteps of Hazem El Masri, who made his NSW debut as a 31-year-old in a Game Three in Brisbane, albeit not in a decider.

Blues legend Nathan Hindmarsh was there for that game in 2007 and said the Bulldogs winger seemed comfortable in camp.

“He was always on the fringe of playing Origin, and he then finally got the chance to play,” Hindmarsh said.

“He couldn’t crack it because of the calibre of wingers the Blues had, so when he did get in, it was exciting for everyone. He never seemed overawed by the situation. I think he was just excited.”

Hazem El Masri on run during Queensland v NSW State of Origin game three (3) of series at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Camera IconHazem El Masri was a late bloomer. Credit: News Corp Australia

As for McLean making his debut at Suncorp Stadium?

“Good luck to him,” he laughed.

“He’s a big-game player from his time at the Storm, but this is going to be a baptism of fire for him. It’s a great challenge for him because he can either take it on the chin and relish it or curl up in a ball.”

That McLean has been picked for this game is testament to his form at club level after his career was at a crossroads following a serious foot injury in 2018.

But he’s played some of the best footy of his career this season and is one of the reasons why the Cowboys are flying high.

“I’ve got to take my hat off to Todd Payten and the coaching staff up there,” Sattler said.

“Guys like Jordan and David Klemmer were supposed to struggle with the new rules or even be forced into early retirements because of the speed of the game.

“But they’ve found something in their game that has allowed them to evolve with the speed of the game. Jordan has been outstanding, and it comes down to resilience.

“He probably never thought he’d get picked for NSW at this stage of his career, but he deserves it and it shows that his journey never affected him.”

 

 

 

Originally published as Origin 2022: Scott Sattler’s sound advice for mature-aged rookie Jordan McLean

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