The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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THE pipeline of players from the Sunshine Coast to the Peninsula shows no sign of abating. Matt Mapes is the latest recruit to follow that path, although he originally played with the Broncos from when he was 16. Now 25, Mapes has not allowed the stiff competition for second-row spots at the Dolphins put him off. In fact, he has relished the challenge and recently won two players' player awards. "I'm enjoying my time at the Dolphins," the quietly spoken Mapes said. Mapes spent the past two seasons with the Nambour Crushers, who won the 2003-04 Sunshine Coast premierships. "I played the two seasons with the Crushers but missed the grand final last year with a rib cartilage injury, which was pretty disappointing. Dan Stains coached the side last year and has the job again this year. "Craig Polla-Mounter, the former Canterbury half, also played in the side and I learnt a bit from those two. "James Hinchey watched a couple of games and it went from there." Mapes turned out in Redcliffe's A grade for the opening two fixtures before his sheer form pitchforked him into the Premier League. His strong defence and clever offloads have ensured his spot in Anthony Griffin's side ever since. At 190 centimetres and 97 kilograms, Mapes is the ideal build for second-row, his preferred position. "It's the spot I like," he said. "I've found the Redcliffe set-up very professional and there's been no worries since I moved down in February. I didn't really know anyone at the club except Jason Campbell, who came from Nambour to play with the Colts. "It's good to have Troy Lindsay and Adam Starr up front with the Dolphins because they give a lot of experience." Mapes said the away win over Tweed Heads Seagulls was gratifying as his side won the second half. "To come from behind was a struggle but it was a good sign," he said. "We're working our way up the table but there's plenty of work still to do." Mapes is no stranger to Brisbane, having played with Wests Arana Hills as a youngster and joining the Broncos organisation when he was 16. An electrician, he lives at Ferny Grove and works for a mate. But it was his trade which almost forced him out of football despite reaching the Clydesdales level. Several years ago he found the task of combining work and virtual fulltime training with the Broncos too much and gave the code away. "I lost interest," he confessed. "I gave league away as it was interfering with work. I was doing my apprenticeship and starting work at 5.30 and not getting home until 9 o'clock some nights. "I gave it away for a few years before getting back into it at Nambour." He spent from 1996 to 1999 with the Red Hill giants, much of it with team-mates such as Dane Carlaw, Chris Walker and Craig Frawley, ironically two of whom are former Redcliffe Colts. "I haven't really given going back to the NRL set-up any thought," he said. "I'll take it as it comes. I'm just happy to play every game in Premier League this season."