Nate miles high in fan, player esteem
This year's Queensland Origin campaign is centred around the Maroons who have played at least 30 matches for their state; aka the Statesmen.
With Cameron Smith about to create history as the first player to appear in 40 Origin matches – such an inconceivable notion that there has been no accolade thought of with which to honour it – the men with more than a decade of service in the game's most demanding arena have been front and centre.
The names define what Origin has meant north of the border ever since the concept's inception in 1980; Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga and Allan Langer setting a platform for modern greats of the game such as Smith, Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Petero Civoniceva.
And then there's Nate.
'He's one of the greatest Queensland forwards to ever play the game'
In NSW Nate Myles might best be remembered as the bloke who Paul Gallen decided to punch in the head in Game I, 2013, that led to the banning of punching in the game altogether but in Queensland he is held in the same high esteem as the King, Locky, Alf and JT.
When Myles runs out for his 32nd Origin match on Wednesday night he will pass Lewis and Brad Fittler on the list of all-time Origin appearances, joining Mal Meninga whom he can pass if he is selected for Game II in Sydney.
If he plays in all three games this series – as he has done in six of the past seven series – Myles will become the most capped running forward in Origin history and cement his position as one of Queensland's greatest servants.
"In my opinion he's one of the greatest Queensland forwards to ever play the game," says Maroons lock Josh McGuire, who cites Myles as one of his favourite Queensland players of all time.
"He brings a lot of confidence and when you're in the middle of the park and you've got him standing next to you, you feel that little bit more safe and secure. That the guy next to you is not going to let you down and has got your back if you do accidentally miss something.
'He looks after all the young guys and shows you the ropes'
"He's usually that guy doing the hard stuff and definitely a guy that other players want to have here and out on the field with them.
"My first Origin camp in 2015 he was here obviously and really made me feel part of the group.
"He's just always been a really good team man, good team leader around the place and kind of looks after all the young guys and shows you the ropes."
Such is the faith in Myles, earned from Origin displays over the years, that Queensland selectors have often looked past any perceived drop in form and calls for his axing to read out his name time and again.
Former teammates joke that his form has a tendency to spike as Origin nears but for those who stand beside him against the Blues there has never been any doubt about his value to the team.
"The whole arena of State of Origin suits him because he's one of those guys who looks at someone across from him with better form or something like that and sees it as a challenge," says Queensland back-rower Aidan Guerra.
"He's another guy that has played a high number of Origins and I don't even know if there was one bad performance let alone count them all on one hand.
"He's someone who you've come to expect is going to lead."
And leading from the front is exactly what will be required of the 31-year-old in Game I as he starts for just the third time this season and with a rookie beside him in the front row rather than long-time prop partner Matt Scott.
'I'm always looking to improve'
He is the man Queensland will turn to in the fiery opening exchanges, a role he has embraced since making his Origin debut in 2006.
"I don't know what my role is going to be yet," Myles said.
"A lot of it will depend on how the game is panning out. My game time will probably centre around that.
"I'm trying to keep things pretty much the same. I don't think I need to change too much up.
"I'm always looking to improve but with the calibre of young kids coming through that should only help me."