Ryan Matterson’s emotional reaction to his selection in the New South Wales side for the State of Origin opener is a thing of beauty.

The 27-year-old has jumped around from club-to-club throughout his career, but has always appeared to be on the cusp of representative football given his size, skill and ability to cover multiple positions. 

And after finding career-best form for Parramatta in 2022, Matterson will finally make the jump to the Origin arena when he debuts for the Blues on June 8th.

       

Matterson was included in Brad Fittler’s 22-man squad on Sunday night, heading into camp with the Blues in Coogee that night.

But it wasn’t until an interview with Channel 9 on Monday that the second-rower would learn of his selection – and it came as a huge shock.

“Are you serious? I’m really playing? My man Freddy, thank you,” he said.

“Holy dooley, wow.”

Matterson has played 130 NRL games to date and won a premiership with the Roosters back in 2018, but next Wednesday night will be the biggest moment of his career.

With the series opener taking place in Sydney, Matterson will have a sense of home-ground advantage – and you get the feeling his family will be in the stands at Accor Stadium cheering him on.

“Straight away, I’m just thinking mum, dad and my brother Dean,” he said.

“My brother actually shed a tear last night when he found out I was in the squad, so if he found out that I’m actually playing, he will be over the moon.

“My jaw is hurting from smiling – I’m so excited.”

Matterson will join fellow debutants Stephen Crichton and Kotoni Staggs in the NSW team for Game I – and the emotional reaction from the Eels star is proof of how important Origin is to footballers from NSW and Queensland. 

Growing up in Sydney and playing his junior footy for both Bankstown Bulls and Wentworthville Magpies, Matterson would have been like any other kid growing up and watching Origin until after 10pm on a school night.

There’s a different sense of loyalty that rugby league fans of all ages feel for their state when Origin season rolls around. It’s all people talk about at school, work, at the pub or at home.

And to see a player like Matterson – who was no doubt a Blues fan growing up in Western Sydney – react the way he did, continues to prove the importance of rugby league’s marquee event. 

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