Days away from making his State of Origin debut, Corey Horsburgh has reflected on his journey to the big stage, which includes injuries, Woolworths and a stint with the Brisbane Lions.

While there won't be as many fans tuning in on Wednesday due to Game 3 being a dead-rubber match, the match will fulfil Corey Horsburgh's lifelong dream of representing his state on the State of Origin arena.

Born and raised on the northside of Brisbane in a suburb called Caboolture, Horsburgh played multiple sports growing up, not just rugby league - one being AFL.

“I played cricket as a (fast) bowler but had to give up because of back injuries,” Horsburgh told The Courier Mail.

“I also played AFL and was better at it and was in the Lions Academy when I was 14. I stopped playing AFL when I was 16.

“When I was 16 I was starting to play two games on the one day and knew I had to give one up. One year I had two grand finals – in AFL and league – on the one day.

“I played both – AFL for Caboolture then for Redcliffe in league after that. We won both of them.

“I had to leave at three-quarter time in the AFL grand final to make the league game for Redcliffe.”

While Horsburgh could be playing with the likes of Dayne Zorko, Josh Dunkley and Will Ashcroft if he stayed with the sport, he decided to focus all of his attention on rugby league. After being awarded a contract from the North Queensland Cowboys, his decision to stay with rugby league instead of AFL paid off.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - OCTOBER 13: Corey Horsburgh of the Australian Juniors passes the ball out during the international Rugby League Test Match between the New Zealand Juniors and the Australia Junior Kiwis at Mt Smart Stadium on October 13, 2018 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

One of the brightest prospects coming through the Cowboys' developmental system, Horsburgh struggled with off-field issues during his time at the club. This included an incident at the club's presentation night.

“He was in the under-20s and the only job he could find away from footy was stacking shelves at Woolies," his manager Jeff Jurotte told The Courier Mail.

“It was hard for Corey to break through at the Cowboys. They had a nucleus of older fellas in the NRL.”

Due to a string of off-field issues and the forward stocks at the Cowboys at the time, Horsburgh was notified that he would play for the Northern Pride in the Queensland Cup instead of first grade.

It was then that the Canberra Raiders reached out to Horsburgh and his management team through Ricky Stuart and late recruitment manager Peter Mulholland.

“Peter asked me what we were doing and I said ‘Corey can‘t see a future at the Cowboys, so he is open to a move'," his manager added.

“There was no work for him in Townsville. He wasn't earning a lot of money, he was trying to get by on $10,000.

“Corey had just played in an under-20s grand final and the Cowboys wanted him to prove himself in the Queensland Cup, but then the Raiders came into the picture and it was a great opportunity for Corey.”

NRL Rd 9 - Raiders v Knights
WAGGA WAGGA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 08: Curtis Scott of the Raiders, Corey Horsburgh of the Raiders and Siliva Havili of the Raiders react however the play was called a No Try during the round nine NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the Newcastle Knights at , on May 08, 2021, in Wagga Wagga, Australia. (Photo by Kelly Defina/Getty Images)

Moving from Townsville to Canberra, Horsburgh would end up making his NRL and club debut for the Raiders in 2019 - playing a further 21 games that season. This included a Grand Final loss to the Sydney Roosters in what is considered one of the most controversial Grand Final games.

Showing off his potential, 2019 was the start of big things for Horsburgh. However, his career would come to a sudden halt due to a mountain of injuries suffered in 2020 and 2021. This saw him question his decision to keep playing rugby league.

“I wasn't the same for a bit there and thought I'd never get to where I was again. I ran into a few more injuries after that,” Horsburgh said.

“One year I thought I'm going to work really hard in the off-season and that's when my body started to come good. I'm happy I stuck at it.

“I'm a pretty dedicated person so I wasn't going to give up.”

His decision to continue his rugby league journey ended up being the right decision, which will now see him represent the Queensland Maroons on Wednesday evening.

“It's been a massive dream of mine since I was a little boy,” Horsburgh said.

“It's a very proud moment for me and my family.”