by Pam McKay
RUGBY LEAGUE: Graham Glasby was driving to Toowoomba to watch his 15-year-old son Tim play in a state rugby league carnival when he received a phone call from player agent Allan Gainey.
Even though it was 13 years ago, Graham clearly recalls the conversation.
"He said he would be contacting me while I was in Toowoomba to put his case forward to become Tim's manager,” Graham said.
"It came out of nowhere. He was actually applying for a job we didn't even know was available.
"That's when an NRL career really became a vision for Tim. He thought if a manager was seeking him out there must be something in it.”
Clearly there was.
That bright young prospect that Gainey signed more than a decade ago will on Wednesday night make his State of Origin debut for Queensland.
Tim, the hard-working Melbourne Storm forward, will start off the interchange bench for the Maroons in the must-win clash.
Graham, wife Tracie and their twin sons Ben and Will will be at Sydney's ANZ Stadium for the monumental occasion.
"We have been to Origin before but I always hoped Tim would get picked and we could watch him one day,” Graham said.
"I suspect it will be similar to the grand final where when he runs out onto the field we won't be able to contain ourselves.
"Tears will be flowing, I'm sure.”
Graham says the family is still coming to grips with his selection.
"Immediately after Kevvie got off the phone with Tim on the Sunday night he rang us straight away and gave us the good news,” he said.
"He was over the moon. He was so excited, he couldn't believe it.
"We were just the same. It was unbelievable. We were hopeful but it really was a total surprise.”
But the selection honour is well and truly deserved and a fitting reward for years of blood, sweat and tears, according to his proud dad.
Tim was a sporting all-rounder as a youngster: "He was always very good at any sport he tried - and he tried many.”
In his primary school years, it was the round ball game that took his fancy. He did not start playing rugby league until he was 12, joining his older brothers at the Norths Knights.
Graham believes it was those formative years that helped Tim develop the toughness for which he is now well renowned.
"Right from his early playing days he was always keen to step up immediately after his game to play with his brothers.
"Because he was younger he had to be that little bit tougher playing with the bigger boys.
"His brothers loved it when he played with them because he was very handy. He was very fast and a good tackler; his defence was very good even back then.”
But it was his high school years, when he was playing with the North Rockhampton High School Hawks, that Graham says Tim really came into his own as a footballer.
So influential was he in that team he was given the nickname "Hawk”, which many people in the Rockhampton rugby league community still call him.
Tim's boundless talent saw him recruited by the Penrith Panthers, and two weeks after he finished Year 12 he was at the southern club starting pre-season.
And his high school girlfriend and now wife Casey (nee Adams) has been with him every step of the way.
Tim spent three years at Penrith - one in the under-18s and two in the under-20s system.
When an NRL contract did not eventuate, he returned to Rockhampton to complete his studies as a financial planner, joining forces with the CQ Comets (now the Capras).
In his first year back (2010), he was named the Q-Cup Rookie of the Year and for the three years with the Comets/Capras he was their Player of the Year.
It was in 2012 that the long-awaited call came from the Melbourne Storm.
"He didn't second guess himself,” Graham remembers of that time.
"This was his dream to join an NRL team and he couldn't be happier that it was Melbourne Storm because they were so successful and there were a lot of Queensland players in the team.
"He was so happy. In November 2012 he left for Melbourne.”
Tim made his debut for the Storm in Round 16 of the 2013 season against the Wests Tigers on a cold, rainy day at Leichhardt Oval.
He played three NRL games that year and in 2014 he played 13.
In 2015, he played all 24 games in the regular season and both of the semi-finals, one of only two players to not miss a game.
Graham said that was when Tim finally considered himself a regular member of the team.
He was a permanent fixture in the Storm forward pack for the 2016 season as well and then the ultimate - an NRL grand final appearance.
Graham nominates Tim's debut and the grand final as the most memorable of his career so far.
"His debut because it was the very first step in a great journey and the grand final because it was a huge pinnacle for him. Not many kids can say they've played in an NRL grand final and our son's one of them. We've very proud and pleased that he can say that,” he said.
And come Wednesday, there will be a State of Origin to add to the list.
"Origin rates so highly; it's probably second only to the national side,” Graham said.
"I think every footballer hopes to one day play State of Origin and represent their country and that's also the hope for us that he can achieve those heights because he's worked so hard and he's still working so hard to get there.
"And it hasn't been handed to him on a silver platter. It's been a long apprenticeship; three years in Penrith, another three years in the Q-Cup, five years with the Storm.
"He's a 28-year-old Origin debutant and he deserves every single milestone and it's a credit to him and his wife Casey.
"They've lived away from home and made all the sacrifices that come along with that so it's a wonderful achievement for them both.”
Graham said Tim, Casey and their baby Parker were incredibly happy in Melbourne and Storm and Queensland captain Cameron Smith and his wife Barb had been a great support.
"I have thanked them personally for what they've done for Tim and Casey in those five years they've been in Melbourne.
"They said it was easy for them to help them because they saw much of themselves in Tim and Casey - a young couple moving to the big smoke, away from family, to follow a dream.”
Graham said it was hard to swallow the savage attacked launched at Tim in the southern media last week - but he is hoping it serves as a motivation for Tim and his Queensland teammates.
"I think it will help Queensland in the long run. This journalist might have lit a fire in the wrong spot.
"Queensland will win and I hope it's not too close because it won't be good for the nerves.
"I won't predict the score but I'll be brave enough to say I hope Queensland flog the New South Welshmen.”