Boyd Cordner has paid Nathan Cleary the ultimate compliment, comparing him to Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk and hailing him as a potential State of Origin great.
Cleary will on Wednesday night partner James Maloney, with the pair becoming the Blues' 20th halves combination since 2006 - the year NSW started life after Andrew Johns and Queensland's dominance began.
At 20, Cleary is charged with ending life in the doldrums for the Blues.
The youngest half to play Origin since Mitchell Pearce 10 years ago, he'll need to overcome the shortest ever lead in time for a rookie NSW No.7 given he's played just five games this year.
Cordner has played with both Thurston - for Australia - and Cronk - at the Roosters - and says he's seen parts of them in Cleary.
"I haven't had much to do with Nathan at all and he shocks you straight away how mature he is," Cordner said.
"He shows all the qualities it takes to be a great Origin player like Cooper and Johnathan Thurston and Mitchell Pearce, he is tough and a competitor.
"He is willing to learn. He knew the game plan hands down after day one. He is excited and ready to go and has prepared really well. I can't wait to play next to him."
Blues coach Brad Fittler - who himself debuted at 18 and played in the halves by age 19 - urged caution on the young star but said he had no concerns over Queensland's likely plans to direct traffic at him.
"He is just cool, very cool. He is a bit like his old man," he said.
He is only 20 years old, let's not call him great yet but I am really keen to see him get out there and deal with 80,000 people on a ground he has never played on.
"In the first game he ever played, he made 41 tackles against Melbourne and he didn't miss one.
"He knows he will have Josh Papalii and Josh McGuire tearing at him, he just know it's coming."
Cleary's combination with Maloney on Wednesday night will also mark just the third time since Johns' retirement that the Blues will enter an Origin match with more experience in the halves than Queensland.
Maloney is now the senior half in the series across both sides and has taken on a considerable leadership role.
"I haven't really been involved with James that much in the past with camps. I hear about him being a joker but he's been all but that this week," Fittler said.