Jolted back into the State of Origin frame, Andrew McCullough is optimistic his no-nonsense approach can make a difference for Queensland in a must-win clash.
The hooker will wear the Maroons No.9 jersey for the first time since 2018 on Sunday at Suncorp Stadium, jumping the queue after injuries to Harry Grant and Reed Mahoney.
McCullough doesn’t boast the pace of NSW rival Damien Cook or highlight reel moments of Grant.
But he isn’t feeling an urge to change his game in response to the Blues’ 50-6 series-opening win.
“I’ve got a simple game plan in my head; I think the bigger the occasion the simpler the game,” McCullough said.
“For me it’s about good clean service, defend well, kick when I need to, get the calls right. ”
“I’m not going to try and be anyone else or any other player.”
That philosophy sits well with long-time teammate Ben Hunt, who like McCullough has left Brisbane, and used his good form at St George Illawarra to forge an Origin return.
“I think he deserves it; he’s played some great footy for us this season,” Hunt, who will serve as Queensland’s bench utility, said.
“He’s just a really solid defender, gives good, clean service and gets his job done.
“He’s not one of the flashy hookers; he doesn’t mind getting down doing the dirty stuff.”
The 31-year-old McCullough has changed clubs twice since his last Origin appearance, Brisbane happy to ship him short-term to Newcastle and then on a three-year deal to the Dragons.
It was away from the Broncos that McCullough said he learned to enjoy his football, aware that the NRL is a “strange thing and you never know what’s around the corner”.
“Harry has done a tremendous job (in his two Maroons appearances) and you’ve got to feel for the lad while Reed is another one playing some good footy and a good Queensland kid,”
“You just don’t know (when it might be your turn); in 2018 I didn’t think I was going to get my shot either but then Cam (Smith) retired.
“It’s funny how it works out.”