SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 22: Stefano Utoikamanu of the Blues poses during a NSW Blues State of Origin Media Opportunity at the Crowne Plaza, Coogee on May 22, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Starting front-rowers Payne Haas and Junior Paulo have given high praise to Blues debutant Stefano Utoikamanu ahead of Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Selected as the 19th man in the Origin opener, Utoikamanu earnt a call-up onto the interchange bench in place of Bulldogs prop Tevita Pangai Junior- pushing Junior Paulo into the starting front-row.

While the stakes of the game are extremely high, Utoikamanu will be fulfilling a lifelong dream when he runs out onto Suncorp Stadium in the NSW Blues jersey.

However, before the must-win game begins, Utoikamanu has earnt high praise from fellow forwards Payne Haas and Junior Paulo, whom he has spent time with during the two Origin camps.

"He's a big boy, he runs hard and he does his job," Haas told Zero Tackle.

"I'm real happy for him, and I'm sure he's gonna kill it in Origin."

Having grown up in the Parramatta Eels junior system, it isn't the first time Utoikamanu has made his presence known to Junior Paulo. Paulo has been able to see him grow from a junior to making his Blues debut.

"It's a massive opportunity for Stef and (I'm) definitely very proud to see how's he grown as a player over the past couple of years," Paulo told this masthead.

"I obviously had some time to spend with Stef when he was at Parramatta as a junior and just to see the growth of him as a player (and) a leader that he has become in that Tigers system, you can see that he's really relishing in that role.

"This opportunity is another tick for Stef in his career and another stepping stone for him.

"Definitely looking forward to seeing him go out there and just do his thing."

Stefano Utoikamanu is looking to bring his great form from club football into the Origin arena.

Despite the Tigers sitting in last on the NRL ladder, the prop has managed to secure two tries and run an average of 114 metres off 10.8 hit-ups a game. This includes 27 tackle busts and 570.1 post-contact metres.

Equally dangerous in defence, the self-proclaimed future Tigers captain has made 348 tackles with a brilliant efficiency of 95.1%

The NSW Blues will take on Queensland on Wednesday night on June 21.