Dylan Edwards opens up on Origin debut ahead of Wednesday’s series opener

Dylan Edwards was to make his Origin debut. Photo: Melinda Jane.
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Hard worker. Reliable. Suited to Origin footy.

These words all sum up NSW Blues debutant Dylan Edwards according to the players that know him best – his Panthers teammates.

While Isaah Yeo, Brian To’o and Liam Martin will run out for their 12th, 10th and 10th Origin game respectively on Wednesday night, Edwards will line up in his first.

At age 28, he’s played in four NRL Grand Finals, won three premierships, been awarded a Clive Churchill Medal and represented his country. But one accolade always eluded the local father of two… Origin.

After being on the cusp of Blues selection for many years, last Sunday Edwards finally got the call he had always hoped he would get.

“Playing Origin has always been a goal and dream of mine… this is a dream come true,” Edwards told the Weekender.

“When I got the phone call from Madge (NSW coach Michael Maguire), there was plenty of happy tears from my fiancé, and my two daughters were very happy for me too. They are getting a bit older, so they understand it a bit more now, so it’s pretty special.”

Journalist Nathan Taylor chats with Dylan Edwards. Photo: Melinda Jane.

On top of his proud family, Edwards also got text messages from his Panthers teammates and his coach Ivan Cleary even called him to extend his congratulations.

Maguire revealed this week that the moment he knew Edwards was the man to take over from Blues skipper and incumbent fullback James Tedesco was during Penrith’s monster win over Cronulla last week.

Sitting in the PointsBet Stadium crowd watching on, Maguire witnessed his new fullback sprint to the sideline in the 44th minute to prevent a certain 40/20 play from the Sharks.

It was that effort play – with Penrith up 28-0 – that had the former New Zealand coach reaching for his phone and locating Dylan Edwards’ number.

“It sounds cliché, but that’s how we play our club footy by doing those little effort areas,” Edwards said.

“If that’s what got me noticed by Madge then I’m happy for that. It’s something we value back home and I’m going to try and do that on Wednesday night as well.”

Dylan Edwards playing for Penrith against Cronulla. Photo: NRL Photos.

Fortunately for Edwards he’ll have plenty of current and ex-Panthers teammates in his corner to make sure his Origin debut is a successful one.

Speaking with the Weekender, Blues winger Brian To’o said his determined fullback has earned his Sky Blue jersey through hard work and patience.

“Dyl is one of those people that works hard on and off the field and I feel that he’s earned that spot and I’m really happy for him,” he said.

“He’s worked really hard the last couple of years and just biding his time, so I’m really glad he gets to be here.”

Blues backrower Liam Martin said Edwards has “been killing it for years” and his experience in big games will put him in good stead for the upcoming Origin series against Queensland.

“Dyl’s so reliable for us and I just know he’s going to do whatever it takes and give it his all on Wednesday night,” Martin told the Weekender.

“We’ve all come a long way with the experiences that we’ve had over the years. I think we’ve been handling it pretty well, especially him. Dyl just goes to another level in those Finals games, and I think he’ll be fine.”

Panthers skipper and Blues mainstay Isaah Yeo said State of Origin selection was the last achievement the boy from Dorrigo in northern NSW needed to tick off his rugby league bucket list.

Journalist Nathan Taylor chats with Isaah Yeo. Photo: Melinda Jane.

“If you look at his body of work that he’s put in the past four or five seasons – the accolades that he’s already got – I just feel like this was the last one for him to knock over,” Yeo said.

“I feel like his form of late, he was knocking down the front door.

“I feel like the harder the game is, the better he is. He’s suited so much in this arena, and he’ll do a wonderful job.”

Edwards said he’s not too sure exactly what to expect when he takes the field next Wednesday night, but if anyone knows how to handle big game pressure at Accor Stadium, it’s him.

“We’ll find out next Wednesday, but I feel like some of the big games that we’ve (Penrith) played there over the years can’t do me any harm in terms of preparation, so fingers crossed,” he said.

Nathan Taylor

Nathan Taylor is the Weekender's Deputy Editor and Senior Sports Writer. He also compiles the weekly Chatter on the Box TV column. Nathan is an award-winning journalist, who has worked at the Weekender for a decade.

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