Odds defied, Welch loving life with Maroons
ORIGIN III will mark 55 days since Christian Welch's world was shattered.
It was round 10, May 16 when a knee injury was thought to have him rubbed out for the entire season, his State of Origin dreams thrown in the shredder.
Rather than celebrate their team's come-from-behind 24-22 victory over the Tigers, Melbourne Storm were left devastated for the popular prop.
Or so they thought.
Welch was later diagnosed with meniscus damage and expected to be out for four to six weeks. Within three he was back on the field.
On Friday, his big beaming smile was like a beacon, with the 24-year-old clearing loving life in Maroons camp.
"It's been a massive six weeks, actually an emotional roller-coaster," he said.
"Thinking I'd done by ACL was devastating. I had a lot of messages flood in from friends and family, but also guys like Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater, who I idolised.
"It's my fourth time in camp now and great to be around some familiar faces, but it's a lot different being in the 17 this time."
Welch will debut off the bench for Queensland in a front-row combination with Joe Ofahengaue, Josh Papalii and former Storm teammate Tim Glasby.
Glasby played in two grand finals with Welch and knows what the 24-year-old offers.
"I can't speak highly enough of Welchy, he's just a fantastic person to play with," Glasby said.
"He always stands up for the team and is someone you trust beside you. I've no doubt he will go well.
"It's good to be back in camp, it's been light stuff only so far, but we will rip in. Obviously we need to address the last performance...and we have it. It needed to be done."