South Sydney big man Jaydn Su’A was “gutted” to be dropped to reserve grade by Wayne Bennett last week but is on a mission to prove to what he can do in the Origin arena for Queensland.
The 23-year-old was axed after the Rabbitohs’ 56-12 loss to the Panthers but is drawing on that pain and history to plan his response.
Su’A is not the first, and won’t be the last, Maroons representative to be picked for Origin after playing reserve grade.
The great Arthur Beetson and Colin Scott were both picked in the inaugural Origin in 1980 from reserve grade, and Ben Hunt was dropped to Ipswich by Bennett at the Broncos in 2017 before being named for his Maroons debut.
Su’A, who was superb for the Maroons in last year’s 2-1 series win, is not kicking stones but will be on a mission in the series opener in Townsville.
“When I found out I was dropped I was shattered. I was gutted. I know I am not playing the best I can be and there are a few things I need to fix up,” Su’A said of being axed by Bennett.
“It could be a blessing. The thing is, I know what I need to work on and they are only small adjustments.
“Wayne knows what makes players click and how to get the best out of you, but I am just grateful to have this opportunity to play Origin. I know what I bring to this arena and I can’t wait to show everyone.
“I did hear about the Ben Hunt story, and it gives me a bit of confidence knowing that he has done it as well.
“I got a lot of confidence out of last year’s series, and to win it was an unreal feeling I will hold with me forever. I am just dying to feel it again. I am solely focused on Origin this week, but when I get back to clubland I am going to show them all.”
Jaydn Su’a was dropped by Rabbitohs coach Wayne Bennett. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
Maroons legend Petero Civoniceva is backing Su’A to bounce back to his best.
“I felt for Jaydn. The Bunnies had a tough trot and he paid the price, but he was just dropped for the week,” Civoniceva said.
“For Jaydn it was more of a reality check, and Wayne has been known to do that, but he will lift when he gets that Queensland jersey on and do what is required for the state.
“It was a great rap for Wayne to liken him last year to Tonie Carroll. Tunza was one of the most feared defenders in the history of our game, and I think Jaydn has the same potential, as Wayne has indicated. He now has to do it at Origin level and week-in and week-out.
“Artie Beetson came out of reserve grade to lead the Maroons when he was 35, and what he was able to achieve in that first game for Queensland was unbelievable and set State of Origin up.”
Su’A is off-contract and said it was “a possibility” he could return to the Broncos next year where he debuted as an 18-year-old.
“I am still not sure where I will be next year. I love Souths. It is a club that when I first went there I didn’t know if I would fit in as well as I did,” he said.
“That goes for all the boys and all the staff – from top to bottom – and I can’t speak highly enough about them.
“All I know is that I need to start playing better for the team and all the contract stuff will take care of itself.”
Su’A may yet reunite with Bennett in Brisbane at a new franchise in 2023.
“I know that everyone that plays under Wayne wants to play for him and prove to him that they are good enough,” Su’A said.
“I don’t know what he is doing with his coaching career next year. I have only really played under Wayne and I love playing for him, but it probably won’t be the case next year.
“Who knows about (2023). There is a really good fan base in Brisbane, and I think it will be exciting to have games at Suncorp once a week with a new team. I think that will be good for the game.”
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