Brothers second rower Will Merritt is preparing for the biggest game of his rugby league career after catching the eye of Laurie Daley.
Merritt has been selected in the First Nations Goannas team that will play New Zealand Maori at the Festival of Indigenous Rugby League in Sydney next month.
The week-long celebrations have replaced the annual All Stars game in the lead-up to the NRL season and Merritt will be front and centre.
“I think it will be the biggest game I’ve played,” Merritt said.
“I’ve played country firsts but this will definitely be the biggest thing I’ve ever done.”
Merritt was selected in an initial 40-man squad after impressing at the Koori Knockout when playing for Dindima.
The 40-man squad comprised of players from the Koori Knockout and those who impressed at a similar carnival in Queensland.
Daley, who will coach First Nations, then ran his eye over the footage and culled the squad to 20.
“I was over the moon,” Merritt said about his selection.
“I think it’s recognition for all our mob. It’s a chance to go up there and not only represent the people around here, but also my family and Wagga Brothers.
“I think it will be really good.”
The First Nations squad will go into camp on February 6 before the game at Redfern Oval on February 10.
Merritt is looking forward to the experience and hopes to learn as much as possible from Daley.
“I reckon we should be really good, it will be a tough game, very physical,” Merritt said.
“With Laurie Daley coaching us, there will be a lot to try and take in.”
Merritt, 31, will enter into his second season with Brothers this year.
Originally from Cowra, Merritt has been in Wagga for the past eight years after initially joining Group Nine rivals Southcity.
After five seasons with the Bulls, Merritt had two years with Junee before switching to Brothers.
Griffith’s Josh Charles will also play for First Nations.