Cronulla utility Kurt Capewell never thought there was a chance he could play for Queensland before finishing his carpentry apprenticeship, until receiving a phone call from Maroons coach Kevin Walters ahead of the opening State of Origin match.
Capewell, who will make his 52nd Telstra Premiership appearance for the Sharks in Thursday night's clash with Canberra at GIO Stadium, was called into the Queensland camp as 20th man after initially being considered for a role on the Maroons' left edge.
The selection of the versatile 26-year-old would be an Origin fairytale as Capewell did not make his NRL debut until 2016 and only played four first grade matches in Cronulla's premiership-winning season after previous stints with Brisbane and Sydney Roosters.
"To get a late call in was a massive surprise to me and to be a part of that week in camp, and meet all the boys was something really special," he said.
"I will cherish forever the day we spent at Charleville, with all my family and friends. It was a pretty good moment for me and to see the boys get the win they did was pretty awesome, as well."
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Having growing up in Charleville in south-west Queensland, Capewell first came to notice while playing for Ipswich Jets as a 17-year-old but believed he had a better future as a carpenter before belatedly joining the Broncos.
He is still trying to complete his qualifications by attending TAFE in the evenings but is now firmly entrenched in Cronulla's top team and can play anywhere from fullback to front-row.
"It's been a long road to get my carpentry done but it is something I enjoy and something I am endeavouring to get finished," Capewell said. "Obviously football is good while it lasts but you need something outside footy as well.
"I have only just played my 50th game in the NRL so I haven't been around too long but I have diversified over a couple of positions and I think that now I am starting to get the hang of playing 80 minutes week-in and week-out in the back row it has really helped my game going forward.
"I hope I can keep playing good footy and maybe make the Origin team next time."
Despite Walters being from Ipswich, Capewell had never met him before joining the Queensland camp and knew only a few players, including Corey Oates, Joe Ofahengaue and Jai Arrow, who he had played with in under 20s at the Broncos.
At the time he was a fullback or winger but after returning to Ipswich following a stint with the Roosters, Jets coaches Ben and Shane Walker decided Capewell would be suited to the second row.
"I came down to the Sharks as a second-rower and played off the bench in my debut game," he said. "Since then I have played centre, wing, hooker, front row. I am yet to play fullback but I will put my hand up if there is an opportunity. I really enjoy the versatility and it keeps the game fresh for me."
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With Cronulla captain Wade Graham sidelined until last week after rupturing his ACL last season, Capewell has been playing left second-rower and he credits halfback Chad Townsend for helping his rise to the verge of Origin selection.
However, with Graham back he is happy to return to the utility role as the Sharks aim to fight their way into the top four with a win in Canberra.
"I owe a lot to Chad. The way he talks to me during the game and gets me involved has helped a lot and now that Wade is back my role is going to change a bit so I will have to adapt to that," Capewell said.
"I might play a few different positions which excites me. It switches it up from week in to week out so that keeps the mind fresh. It is like any job, it can get a bit repetitive so to be able to play multiple positions is something I enjoy and it has obviously helped my career."