The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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It?s 11am, Friday 17th June. Powerhouse Roosters rookie Mickey Paea is resting at home, preparing to head to Premier League training in the afternoon. Whilst happy to further his skills in the club?s gun lower grade side, Paea wonders whether his chance to crack it in the big time will ever arrive. Suddenly, a phone call from Ricky Stuart changes everything?
?You?re in Mickey,? Stuart says simply, curtly.
The boom 19-year-old has just a few hours to collect his thoughts, gear and emotions before the biggest moment of his career.
?I thought he was joking,? Paea laughs.
?It was a great buzz to get that phone call, it was definitely unexpected.
?It didn?t leave me with much time to do anything, but maybe that was a blessing, because I didn?t have much time to worry about the game or get overly nervous.?
One of three Paea?s currently at the Roosters (dubbed 'P3' in accordance with his position in the family), Mickey is a young man of contrasts.
Shy, quiet and reserved off the field, Paea evolves into a weapon of mass destruction on it.
?That?s probably to do with our upbringing ? we were always told to be polite and treat people with respect,? Paea explains.
?That changes a bit on the field though!?
It?s that respect which saw the Paea brothers, Mickey, Lopini, 21, and Lelea, 22, use their first notable football contracts to buy their parents a house.
?They didn?t have much when they were bringing us up, but they gave us everything,? Paea recalls.
?That was our way of repaying them.?
Despite his tender years, Paea possesses arguably the most powerful physique of any forward at the club.
Simply, he was born to play football, born to inflict pain on anyone who touches him.
?He?s an impressive young talent,? enthuses skipper Luke Ricketson.
?I?m glad he?s on our side, let?s just leave it at that!?
Despite fearing his first grade shot would never arrive behind an all-international forward pack (when Craig Wing is at hooker), Paea credits the likes of Jason Cayless, Adrian Morley, Ricketson and Craig Fitzgibbon with his continued development.
?They certainly help you around the park, on the field and at training,? Paea says.
?Before the game on Friday they all spoke to me and got all the nerves out of me.
?They?re always good to have around and are always willing to help the young guys out.
?It?s good of them, because they could have the attitude where they don?t want us to take their spots.
?But that?s the attitude at this club, where everyone is in it for each other ? it?s a good environment, especially for us young boys.?
Not that the club?s senior players seem to mind.
?They keep us old blokes on our toes, that?s for sure,? Morley says.
?We aren?t going to be around forever, so if we can help their move to first grade football then that?s good for the club.
?There?s some great young guys coming through here, so it?s exciting times for us.?
And following in the tradition of famous footballing families such as the Mortimer?s, Walters? and Hughes?, Paea says it?s his dream to one day line up alongside his siblings, who have both already had a taste of first grade in their young careers.
?As long as we all stay together and are playing good football, then we?re a chance,? he says.
?That would be great one day.?