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Stanley Huen: 'It's a privilege and a half'

Stanley Huen was the kind of kid that used to go all out when watching State of Origin, dressed head to toe in kit, shoulder pads and headgear included.

So tomorrow night, when Huen pulls on the Queensland jersey to represent the state on the Under 19 stage, it will be an extra special moment.

The Ipswich product has come a long way since officially taking up the game at age 11.

And for Huen - named vice-captain of the Under 19 team - the clash with New South Wales is set to become the highlight of his young career so far.

Huen with Under 19 captain, Blake Mozer. Photo: Rikki-Lee Arnold/QRL
Huen with Under 19 captain, Blake Mozer. Photo: Rikki-Lee Arnold/QRL

“My memories of watching State of Origin… I used to get dressed up in my shoulder pads, my headgear and get really into it, watching Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, all those big names trying their heart out for their state,” Huen said.

“This means a lot. I couldn’t ask for more. It’s a privilege and a half. If you get that one chance, you have to take it with two hands and go for it.

“This shows you that you’re doing the right things and you have to stay persistent and keep working at your craft and hopefully something will pay off. One hundred per cent it gives you a bit of confidence.”

Huen said he was not at all expecting to be selected in the Under 19 team and only found out last Sunday from his Melbourne Storm academy coach, Matt Duffie, shortly after playing the Sydney Roosters in the New South Wales Jersey Flegg competition.

“My Storm academy coach broke the news to me... He kept it pretty short and said, ‘good job, you’ve been playing good footy and congratulations you’ve made the 19s Origin’,” Huen said.

“Being a year young, you don’t really expect to be picked in this high of a quality team. I wasn’t really expecting it.

“I was just going out, playing footy and I guess I played all right and got the call up. I was pretty stoked.”

The young five-eighth’s rugby league journey began in his backyard, playing footy with his older brothers. His mum, Rachael Reihana, was a bit reluctant to let him join a club.

But by the time he turned 11, his mum caved, and he started playing with Swifts Rugby League before moving to Ipswich Brothers.

By the time he was 15, Huen moved to Brisbane where he played for Souths Acacia Ridge. In the same year, he received an invite to Melbourne’s academy training and before he knew it, he had a contract with the NRL club.

Huen has been in the Storm’s junior pathways for three years now and moved to Melbourne shortly after pre-season this year.

Huen at Queensland Under 19 training. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL
Huen at Queensland Under 19 training. Photo: Zain Mohammed/QRL

He wasn’t due to head down until next season but the determined teen was given a goal to reach and he worked and worked until he was able to achieve it.

“I wasn’t supposed to move down until next year but I moved down a year early,” Huen said.

“I came in pretty late and missed out on pre-season. But when I got there, I went in, started playing SG (Ball) and then Jersey Flegg.

“I was playing good footy and they gave me a little target to hit. I had to hit a 17 on a yo-yo (fitness test) and if I was fit enough I could move down.

“So, I trained really hard for that and put my full focus onto that because I wanted to pursue my dream.

“If I get given a target to reach, I try my hardest to strive to get that.

“It’s been brilliant down there. I love it. Storm’s a great club and they look after you on the field but also off the field. That’s their main goal, is setting me up for after footy.”

Away from the field, Huen is a barber. Photo: TAFE Queensland
Away from the field, Huen is a barber. Photo: TAFE Queensland

Away from the field, Huen is a barber.

During his final years at Ipswich Grammar School, he undertook a Certificate III in Barbering through TAFE and when he got to Melbourne, the club worked closely with him to find employment.

“They moved me into my house, helped me move and just picked me up,” Huen said of the Storm.

“I was struggling to find a job at the start but they kept being persistent.

“I just love cutting hair. I really enjoy it. I get to do what I love outside of footy. It’s two things that I love so I can’t ask for more.”

With success both on and off the field, Huen will run onto the field at Kayo Stadium tomorrow night a proud young man, ready to represent himself, his state and his family.

And when he looks back over the past few years, he knows he wouldn’t be donning the Queensland jersey this week if it wasn’t for one person in particular: his mum.

While she was hesitant at first, she is his biggest supporter and he said he cannot wait to see her after the game tomorrow night.

“My mum, 100 per cent,” Huen said when asked his biggest influence.

“She’s always talking with Melbourne, always trying to get the best for me and she pushed me to finish my barber apprenticeship before I moved to Melbourne.

“She’s always pushed me through my life. She was hesitant at first and now she’s supporting me all the way.”

Acknowledgement of Country

Melbourne Storm respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.