Origin selection is King for Storm

May 3, 2004

As Melbourne Storm centre Matt King joined his Country Origin teammates today he was still coming to terms with the remarkable career turnaround he has enjoyed over the past nine months.

This time a year ago King was struggling to get noticed in reserve-grade with the Cronulla Sharks and such was his disillusionment with rugby league he was even considering giving the game away.

12 months later and with just 11 NRL games under his belt, the 23-year-old from Casino is set to line up against the City Origin side this Friday night at Gosford, in a match that acts as the selection trial for the New South Wales State-of-Origin side.

?This time last year I was in Cronulla doing nothing, I thought my footy was going nowhere I was just going to play the year out, even at the start of this year I didn?t know whether I was going to make the starting team for the Storm,? King said.

?I had my first-ever full off-season with a fulltime squad this year, ever other year I?ve had to work all day and then train for two hours in the afternoon, three times a week.

?Last year I finally played first-grade with the Storm, then I played in the semi-finals and then the next challenge for me was to be a consistent first-grader and now this (Country selection), so it?s been a good progression for me.?

King - who was selected for the Country/City Origin match along with Storm teammates Scott Hill (Country) Matt Orford (City) - actually represented Country under 18?s several years ago, but never thought he would be on trial for NSW Origin selection.

?Selection was the last thing I was thinking about actually, I?ve only played a handful of NRL games so to be playing for Country is amazing,? King added.

?I actually played for the Country under 18?s side which was awesome, 17 country kids got to play at the Sydney Football Stadium and we got paid $100 for the week and spent it all at the pinball parlour down the road.

?I?ve now got to take this in my stride and hopefully make a fist of it.?

Hill?s recall to the representative scene caps off a successful return from injury that saw most of the 2003 season wiped out due to ongoing shoulder troubles.

?I?m starting to get my game together which is pleasing and there?s no reason why I can?t continue to improve until I get back to my best,? the former Test lock said.

?Obviously it?s always great to be involved in the rep side of football but with the injuries I had last year it?s just great to string seven games together with Melbourne so far this season.?

Friday night?s match will also mark a return to the City side for Orford, who, after playing in the Origin selection trial in 2002 was overlooked last year in favour of Bulldogs halfback Brent Sherwin.

?Once you get that first taste of rep football you want to stay there and unfortunately I missed a year last season with some other guys in form, but when you get there the last thing you want to do is give your spot up,? Orford said.

?The injury to Andrew Johns has put me up the ladder just a little bit closer to the other halfbacks in the competition and that?s probably helped my cause.

?The way the Storm has performed over the past 18 months or so has helped me a little bit as well, we are much more consistent now and I think we?re a top five side which makes people take notice.?

For further information contact

James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]