Zac Lomax's relationship with Blues coach Brad Fittler stretches back to when he was playing under-16s.
Lomax, who is part of NSW's 27-man squad to face Queensland in November, made his junior State of Origin debut under the guidance of Danny Buderus and fellow Blues great Fittler in 2015.
The 21-year-old St George Illawarra Dragons centre recalled being "pretty gobsmacked" when he first met the pair.
He played off the bench in a 10-6 loss at ANZ Stadium before twice representing the Blues under-18s with Fittler at the helm.
"They're unbelievable coaches and unbelievable players as well," he told NRL.com on Monday morning before boarding a bus headed to NSW's camp at a Central Coast resort.
"But I think the best thing about them is they're such good people. I have so much time for them."
They clearly have a lot of time for him too. Fittler has long been a Lomax fan, famously dubbing him 'The Gifted One' prior to his NRL debut in 2018.
So it would be fitting if Fittler gave him his first senior Origin cap.
"I think Freddie's just shown confidence in me," Lomax said.
"Hopefully I can repay him by competing on everything and being the best teammate I can be for his team. That's all I'm looking to do."
Lomax said he's felt "no pressure at all" from having the coach championing his talent from such a young age.
"I think it's just Freddie being a good fella as he is. I'm sure he has pretty high opinions of a lot of players here," he said.
The bond he shares with Fittler was on display in an emotional video capturing the phone conversation advising him of his Blus selection.
"It was the best call ever to receive off Freddie. I can't wait to be like a sponge and come in and learn as much as I can off all these unbelievable players," he said.
"I was at home in my house in Wollongong. But I had my three best mates down there with me and obviously my partner, Jess [Sergis]. It was unreal to have all them four with me. It was the best feeling.
"I called my family straight away to let them know and it was the best feeling ever. So stoked."
With Tom Trbojevic unavailable due to injury and Campbell Graham initially being overlooked, Lomax is among the contenders to start in the centres at Adelaide Oval on November 4.
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Dally M medal winner Jack Wighton is set to retain his spot while Clint Gutherson and potential squad inclusion Stephen Crichton have been touted for the vacant jumper.
Regardless of what eventuates, Lomax is already living out a dream being around the team.
"If I carry the bags and be the waterboy for the boys, that's what I'm looking to do. If I do get a game I'll be ready," he said.