NSW have lost another blue-chip prospect, Knights under-20s pack leader Korbin Sims, to Queensland.
Sims, one of four Newcastle players named yesterday to play in the inaugural National Youth Cup State of Origin game at Centrebet Stadium on Saturday night, will line up for the Maroons against house mate Alex McKinnon, who was named in the second row for NSW.
They will be joined by five-eighth Kurt Mann (Queensland) and winger Chanel Mata’utia (NSW), the younger brother of Knights utility back Peter Mata’utia.
Like his older brothers Ashton and Tariq, Sims was born in Gerringong, the home of Blues legend Michael Cronin, but the 20-year-old prop pledged his allegiance to the Sunshine State when he joined the Broncos in 2008, when he was 16.
Sims represented Queensland in under 16s that year, and under 18s in 2009 and 2010, so another start for the young Maroons feels natural.
‘‘It’s always good to represent Queensland, or any state you go for, you know,’’ Sims told the Newcastle Herald yesterday.
‘‘I moved up there at that age of choosing to play for who I wanted to play for, and I just chose Queensland at the time.
‘‘I played NYC for the Broncos when I moved up there. I signed with the Broncos, then the boys [Ashton and Tariq] moved up there before I did to start training, but I had to stay down to finish school, then I moved up just after I was 16.’’
Though his decision is unlikely to unsettle the garden-variety footy fan just yet, keen judges rated Sims as the pick of the family tree when he joined the Knights at the start of last year.
And some NSW officials still have the odd sleepless night around Origin time when they recall the day they allowed Kempsey-born Bowraville junior Greg Inglis, whose first rugby league after he turned 16 was for Hunter Sports High, to nominate Queensland over his state of birth.
Asked about the probability of a future Origin showdown with Tariq, 22, the 2010 NYC player of the year and 2011 Cowboys rookie of the year who has been named on the bench for Country Origin, Korbin said: ‘‘That’d be good. I can’t wait if that happens.’’
Sims is equally excited about lining up on Saturday against McKinnon, the 20-year-old Dragons recruit who has played all seven NRL games for the Knights this season.
‘‘Alex McKinnon is my room-mate at the moment, so we’ve got no love lost between us,’’ he said.
‘‘We’ve played each other on multiple occasions, so we know that as soon as we step out on the field, that’s business, you know, but as soon as we step off it, we’re back to being mates.
‘‘Chanel’s a great guy and he’s been playing good footy, so I’m proud to be playing against those blokes and alongside Kurt Mann.’’
Sims averaged 18 runs for 157metres, 22 tackles, two offloads and three tackle breaks in his first four NYC games but has not played since breaking his finger against the Bulldogs on March 25.
‘‘It’s been three or four weeks now, so hopefully it holds up through the game,’’ he said.
Though he has not played an NYC game this year, McKinnon was looking forward to a taste of Origin, albeit at a junior level, and being coached by former NSW and Australian hard man Dean Pay.
‘‘It’s always an honour to play for NSW at any level, so I’m just glad that I made the team,’’ McKinnon said.
‘‘I’m excited about getting the chance to play and learn from an Origin legend like Dean Pay.’’