NSW hooker Michael Ennis often studied the canteen walls of Valentine-Eleebana Junior Rugby League Club and dreamed of following in the footsteps of his heroes.
Pictures of Kangaroos and NSW stars Paul Harragon, Adam Muir and Brett Kimmorley graced the Valentine canteen, and Ennis will be the next to join that illustrious list when he makes his Origin debut for NSW next week.
The Canterbury hooker will be joined by fellow Valentine juniors Kimmorley and reborn Manly prop Josh Perry in the Origin dead rubber.
Ennis, 25, made his debut with Valentine in the under 13s in 1997 and went on to play Australian Schoolboys before being signed by the Knights.
"All I remember was going to the canteen and seeing Noddy's picture up on the wall and guys like Chief and Adam Muir, and I always wondered one day whether I'll get up there," Ennis said. "It's certainly nice to know that we've all come from a little club like that."
Although eight years Ennis's senior, Kimmorley held similar dreams at Valentine.
"They had some great players playing at the club before me like the Chief and Adam Muir. You used to see pictures of them on the wall," Kimmorley said.
Kimmorley joined the Devils in 1984 aged seven and played until the under 15s before joining feeder club Lakes United.
Valentine's honour role of NRL stars is good enough to fill a team.
Daniel Abraham, Anthony Quinn, Brett Finch, Craig Kimmorley, Adam Brown, Clint Newton, Luke Burt and Willie Mason also spent part of their junior days in the red V.
Perry joined Valentine in the under 13s in 1995 and was part of a stellar line-up which included Burt, Finch and Abraham.
"It was a good club, and you had blokes like Paul Harragon who played there," Perry said.
"It had a good community feel and was a great club to be involved with."
Valentine Juniors began in 1970 as a three-team club with Reg Squires and Bruce Gill the president and secretary.
Valentine's most famous junior, Knights premiership-winning captain Harragon, said the Devils' growth had been amazing.
"It's gone well beyond Lakes United to the Knights, and to many other NRL clubs," Harragon said. "Their teams are growing exponentially and have plenty of tradition and now have more numbers than any other club in Newcastle."
Valentine now have 214 players from under 13s to under 17s, 19 more than Western Suburbs.
When asked why the Devils had such an impressive record in producing NRL players, Valentine publicity officer Bob Browne said: "It's the comradeship we have here at the club. It's a very family-orientated club and it's because of the coaching staff we've had over the years."
Knights assistant coach Rick Stone is the Devils' coaching co-ordinator and has created a program for other coaches.
Former junior Jake Finn last week won the Carlson Club's Andrew Johns Medal for the Knights' best 17-year-old.