This article first appeared on NSWRL.com.au
The appointment of Cameron Murray as the NSW Under-20s Origin captain has shades of the Boyd Cordner selection; not the biggest talker in the group, but his presence and aura are felt when speaking to teammates and he ultimately leads with his actions on the field.
It’s been a stellar year for the 19-year-old, who also captained the NSW Under-18s side to victory last year, represented the Junior Kangaroos earlier this month and made his NRL debut with the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
A born leader, Murray – who plays in the same left back-row position as Cordner - has the privilege of running out first to a chorus of boos on Wednesday evening at Suncorp Stadium, but his true character was on display when talking so highly about his teammates and what they will bring to the sky blue jersey.
“The only difference for me is that I’ll be leading the boys out on Wednesday, I think we’re all leaders,” Murray tells NSWRL.com.au.
“We spoke a lot about what individual strengths we can bring to the jersey, and we’re all going to put in our best effort and build a legacy for the NSW Under-20s.
“Being named captain of the Blues has been a little goal of mine ever since I was a kid, so to be leading the boys out tomorrow night is a huge privilege and an honour.”
NSW legend Danny Buderus will coach the side tomorrow, and had no hesitation picking Murray to captain the side despite being a year young for the age group.
While Murray has achieved a lot in the past few years, he is incredibly humble and grounded enough to always look forward without talking himself up, which one of the reasons why Buderus feels he will make a great leader.
“I picked him as captain because he’s not someone to talk the talk and not walk the walk, he’s someone to walk it and then maybe talk about it,” Buderus tells NSWRL.com.au.
“Cam is ultra impressive, he’ll play left back-row and has a big job to do because they have some handy halves; he’ll be putting those guys under pressure, when he’s got the ball he plays really direct and plays a lot of minutes.”
“He’s someone that’s very action orientated and I think that will suit this group.
While Murray is the only member of the Rabbitohs in the side, he has grown up and played with a majority of his teammates in the past.
Before graduating at Newington College, he went to Marcellin College Randwick along with fellow Junior Blue Nat Butcher, where they played together as fresh teenagers.
Butcher is another player who leads with his actions on the field, and is incredibly close to playing NRL again after debuting at the back end of last season against the Brisbane Broncos – the same side Murray played his first game against.
Murray highlights Butcher as a teammate he cannot wait to link up with once again.
“I’m looking forward to playing with Nat Butcher because I haven’t played with him since Year 7 in school footy,” Murray says.
“We’ve both taken our separate roads and finally we’re on the same team so I’m looking forward to pulling on the jersey with him.
“Back from when I remember he brings a lot of leadership, he’s a workhorse, he’s just one of those players that you want to be playing next to.
“I’ve already played with a lot of the boys, I think I’ve played with everyone in the team except for our fullback Nick [Meaney].”
The two NRL games - albeit defeats – that Murray has played this year will only benefit him when he runs out against Queensland tomorrow night.
While his focus is solely on representing his state, it was certainly a proud moment for the Rabbitohs junior to play for the club he has supported ever since he can remember.
“It was huge, and another little goal ticked off for me,” Murray says.
“I try and put those things behind me as I’m trying not to get too ahead of myself, all the focus is on Wednesday night.”
When it comes to people to learn off, Buderus is one of the best; not only because he is a legend of the game, but his tough and never-say-die attitude is something all players including Murray want to replicate.
The former Knights hooker was also a part of the Junior Kangaroos staff, and Murray is grateful for the wealth of knowledge he has shared over the past month.
“I hadn’t done much work with him until the Junior Kangaroos a few weeks ago, he was hanging around the camp and sharing a bit of his knowledge,” Murray says.
“It was good to play under him there as an assistant coach, but as head coach here he lets you do your own thing and I’m looking forward to playing under him on Wednesday.”
You can watch the NSW Under-20s Origin side take on their Queensland counterparts live on NSWRL.com.au, scheduled for a 5:15pm kick-off at Suncorp Stadium.