Cotric to mark boyhood hero Morris
Canberra's Nick Cotric could barely believe his eyes, he was seeing double but there was a very good reason - the Morris twins.
Back then, Cotric was a starstruck 15-year-old in Brad Fittler's under 16s NSW Blues side.
Brett and Josh Morris were among a number of Origin stars invited to talk to the state's hottest prospects.
Even though Cotric was a prodigious outside back talent himself and already physically superior to the twins, the 2014 encounter with his boyhood heroes left him pinching himself.
"I was always a huge rugby league fan growing up and I would watch a lot of footy too. I really used to love watching the Morris twins play when they were at the Dragons and Bulldogs," Cotric said.
"When I was in under 16s Origin camp, I met both of the brothers when they were playing for the Blues and I even took a photo with them because I used to like them that much."
But at the time, little did Cotric or the Morris twins know a small conversation would manifest into reality this year on rugby league's two biggest stages - State of Origin and the grand final.
Cotric made his senior Blues debut alongside Josh in game one of the 2019 Origin series and on Sunday the Raiders winger goes head to head with Brett in the NRL decider.
"They just said to me 'keep working hard because you never know where you could be or end up' and this year I was rooming with J.Moz [Josh] for the Blues and now I'll be marking B.Moz [Brett]. I actually showed J.Moz the photo during camp and he just laughed at it," Cotric said.
Cotric told The Daily Telegraph that following their Origin experience, he and Josh now talk regularly and the Cronulla centre even texted to congratulate him on qualifying for the grand final, but stopped short of wishing for a Raiders victory.
"He wished me luck and said congratulations the other day actually but he said 'sorry mate, I have to go for the Roosters because of Brett'," Cotric said with a laugh.
Of the 17 players named in coach Ricky Stuart's side to face the Sydney Roosters at ANZ Stadium, only one, Joseph Leilua, has played in a grand final.
Then a Rooster and in his debut season, a teenage Leilua, played on the right edge in the 2010 decider against St George Illawarra Dragons.
So a curious Cotric went to Leilua for advice and some insight on what to expect from Sunday's clash.
"It's not every year you get to play in a grand final, just like Joey, he was 18 years old the last time he played in one. It could come once in a blue moon, once in your career. You just never know," Cotric said.
"I was just talking to him on the field after training, we had a good chat about it all and how important it is not to take for granted.
"I really took that advice to heart from Joey. He was saying, 'you have to take every opportunity that comes and play your heart out because it could your last grand final.'
"He told me he remembers running out onto the field and how crazy the feeling was … he said 'It's the best feeling in the world running out to a crowd that big cheering for you'.