Dragons playmaker Corey Norman believes the time he spent in camp with Queensland before Origin II will help prepare him for next week’s series decider against NSW at ANZ Stadium after being called up for his debut with the Maroons.
Norman will join St George Illawarra halves partner Ben Hunt in the Queensland team, replacing injured Newcastle fullback Kalyn Ponga in the squad although coach Kevin Walters is yet to indicate where the Maroons rookie will line up on game night.
After attending the 2018 and 2019 Emerging Maroons camps, Norman was 18th man in Perth and almost received a late call-up the day before the game after Moses Mbye suffered a near-fatal allergic reaction.
He also trained in the halves while captain Daly Cherry-Evans sat out a session before the June 23 loss at Optus Stadium with an ankle injury.
"It was a good experience just to spend a week or six days with the boys in camp and I enjoyed it," Norman told NRL.com.
"I’ve been around the team and I know their plays and what-not now so that was good. I have had my opportunities before and I feel that I am ready now.
Queensland - Origin III team announcement
"I jumped into training when Chez wasn’t training and it was just good to be in camp and get to see how they do things. You know that you aren’t playing but you are in and around the boys and just to see the way they operate and prepare was probably the best thing."
While Norman was never officially on standby for Moses, he would have been the obvious choice to replace him as he can play halfback, five-eighth, fullback or dummy-half.
Instead he watched the kick-off from the sideline and soaked up the Origin atmosphere.
"I saw Moses there after it happened and he was fine so I didn’t get my hopes up or anything," Norman said. "I was on the sideline until it started raining. I sprinted for the tunnel after that and watched the rest of the game in a box. It was a great atmosphere."
Norman’s selection caps a turnaround in fortunes for the 28-year-old after he was released by Parramatta at the end of last season and joined the Dragons early this year as the long-term replacement for departing captain Gareth Widdop.
A left-footed kicker, he has combined well with Hunt in the halves and the pair will continue an association that began in the Broncos under 20s in Origin next Wednesday night.
"Our games just complement each other’s so much," Norman said. "I thought Benny played really good on Friday night [against the Cowboys], he really stood up and controlled the game.
"I have really enjoyed the move. Our season obviously hasn’t been the best season we could have put together, but we have got a good chance now to make a run for it but we have got to be a lot more consistent."