McLinden gets taste of State of Origin - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

McLinden gets taste of State of Origin

By Laine Clark 03/03/2009 08:29:56 PM Comments (0)

Growing up in Canberra, Mark McLinden found it easy to choose loyalties come State of Origin time.

"As a kid I loved the Blues," he said.

These days the choice is not so clear cut for the former Canberra Raiders playmaker.

Especially since he switched codes to rugby union - and signed with Queensland.

Forget State of Origin - McLinden would be forgiven for being in a state of confusion in the lead-up to Queensland's Super 14 grudge match against the NSW Waratahs on Friday.

McLinden conveniently clings to his neutral roots in Canberra when asked how he was approaching the crunch clash.

Although a rare slip of the tongue from the usually eloquent McLinden gives him away slightly.

"While I don't hate the Blues (Waratahs) I do want to beat them," McLinden told AAP.

"I spent many years supporting them, so I will let my teammates hate them and just concentrate on taking baby steps in my rugby education.

"Besides I am a Canberra boy - I never considered myself a New South Welshman."

McLinden never tasted Origin selection during his stellar six-year Raiders stint before heading to the English Super League - a 2001 NSW Country nod was the closest he got.

But the rookie Reds fullback believes comparisons could be made with Origin and the lead-up to Friday's showdown.

"League has a stranglehold on the Origin concept but this is still two states going head to head," he said.

"And you ask any union supporter from either state how much it means to beat the other, you get some sense of the importance people place on this game.

"And I think the way that we are travelling at the moment and obviously the Waratahs are going very well - it's good timing for both of us to meet."

McLinden reckons he's only taken "baby steps" since being thrown into the deep end after switching codes this season.

"My first day involved watching videos of rugby union," he laughed.

But the modest convert has been impressive in his first three Super 14 games, locking up the No.15 jersey after being eased in off the bench.

He was at it again on Sunday, scoring his first Super 14 try as the Reds notched their maiden 2009 win - a 22-3 victory over South African minnows the Cheetahs.

Big shoes awaited McLinden at the Reds - the last fullback was none other than Queensland legend Chris Latham.

But McLinden knows a thing or two about that from his days at Canberra.

"I was fortunate enough to play with some of the greats from the Canberra days - Ricky Stuart and Laurie Daley," he said.

"When Ricky and Loz left, seven (halfback) and six (five-eighth) were vacant and I tried my best to occupy those positions.

"I feel like I did an honourable job but certainly didn't scale the heights of those players.

"And I may not achieve what Chris Latham has but I will certainly be giving my best - that's all you can ask."

The Reds team will be announced on Wednesday.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2020 AAP

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