Winning the under 20s State of Origin curtain-raiser last Wednesday felt like a dream for 19 year-old Brent Naden.
“It didn’t feel real at the time, it was very exciting and I was proud of myself, for my family,” he said.
“The feeling in the atmosphere was indescribable with the fans and the crowd especially and I think for any New South Wales supporter it’s a dream to have the blues jersey on your back.”
“We knew they were going to be a tough team to beat. It was a very physical game but we wanted it more.”
It was a win of 32-16 watched by his proud family and keen Wellington supporters who travelled to Brisbane especially for the game.
His youngest brother Brock is a fierce Queensland supporter, but he donned the blues gear for the curtain-raiser in a show of support.
Brent Naden comes from a talented sporting family and he said he was extremely grateful for his parents’ commitment each week whether it was trips to football, soccer or basketball.
“You name it, we were a very sporty family,” he said.
He has recently signed a two-year deal to stay with the Penrith Panthers and is focused on playing his best week in week out.
“I would like to play in the bigger grades, you always dream to play above your weight and if the opportunity comes I will seize it with both hands,” he said.
Meanwhile as he focuses on the game he sends his love to his nan and pop in Wellington.
“I miss them dearly and I hope to be back to see them soon.”
His mother Julie Blackhall said she was extremely proud of Brent’s achievements; the sacrifice, commitment and dedication.
“This was a true reward for him. We would like to thank everyone for their well wishes and congratulations to Brent – he was extremely grateful and appreciative of the support.”