On the back of producing career-best form and narrowly missing out on a World Cup spot, Raiders forward Hudson Young has set his sights on a Blues Origin debut next season.
After an impressive NRL campaign that yielded 14 tries in 24 games, Young was named in Mal Meninga’s extended World Cup squad but was unable to force his way into the final 24 that claimed the ultimate prize in November.
For 24-year-old Young, the buzz of watching teammate Jack Wighton light up the international stage and bring home a World Cup winners’ medal helped to make up for his own disappointment, and gave him all the motivation he needs for 2023.
“We saw at the World Cup how good Jack is. He’s played so much footy throughout this year and to be able to come out and perform like that after the season he had, it definitely made me excited to work alongside him again in 2023,” Young told NRL.com.
“Working closely next to him the last two seasons has definitely helped me develop my game.
“He’s an international footballer, he’s won a Dally M and just about done everything in the game so being able to see how he operates and running alongside him has been massive for me.”
Wighton has his own Origin motivation after being overlooked for the 2022 series decider so the Raiders’ left-edge partners will be able to spur each other on in the opening rounds with a common goal to be part of Brad Fittler’s team on May 31 in Adelaide.
Young, who collected the NRL Coaches’ award for the Raiders, said that even being mentioned as a possible Kangaroo for the World Cup had given him the confidence he needs to break in to rep footy in 2023.
“Obviously I want to represent State of Origin next year. I know it’s a bit of a way down the track but it’s something I really want to achieve,” he said.
“I didn’t really speak to Mal (Meninga), it more came from ‘Sticky’ (Ricky Stuart). He’s good mates with Mal and was really honest with me.
“I just want to keep building with my confidence. I sort of had a thing this year of ‘don’t think, just do’, and I’ll be trying to roll with that again this year because the more I think, the worse things become.”
Young knows any hope of representing his state or country begins with success at club level and he says belief is strong in the national capital that they can again be part of the finals action after making it to week two of the play-offs in 2022.
Ryan Sutton (Bulldogs) is the only member of the side that lost to Parramatta in the semi-final who has moved on, so Young is confident the Green Machine has the firepower to again be a contender.
“We’ve got 16 of that 17 that played in the last final against Parramatta, and being a young group, that’s only going to benefit us,” he said.
“From the end of the Origin series we only lost one game heading into the finals so as a young group I think we can take a lot away from that.
“There’s also some really good kids coming through and I think they went really well in the junior levels this year, so they’ll be putting pressure on us older fellas in the team.
“Obviously you want to test yourself early in the season to see where you are at and to get the Cowboys away round one will be a tough task.”