This year the mighty XXXX Queensland Maroons have been forced to blood the next generation of players with this series with the large number of injuries ruling out the likes of Thurston, Inglis and Scott.
Here are the new players that have come into the team in 2017 and are chomping at the bit to make a difference tonight...
Another Central Queensland product who has made his way through the Intrust Super Cup system; Muster was always a precocious and prodigious talent for the Capras. While he could always be counted on to provide something for the highlights reel; his time with the Melbourne Storm has seen him mature as a player and is now a vital member of the team who can be counted on when things get tough. How he combines with his Storm team-mates tonight will be key to Queensland’s chances of claiming the decider.
The monster from Mount Isa was stuck on the bench for most of his debut in Game II. And when the Cowboys second-rower eventually ran on he didn’t exactly light up ANZ Stadium - just 16m from three runs and 14 tackles in the 19 minutes. Hess, 20 and a dead ringer for Ivan Drago from Rocky IV, has vowed to answer ex-coach Mal Meninga’s call for the bench to make a far greater impact in Game III. Realistically, Hess can only get better.
Built for Origin – that was the consensus when the red-headed Roosters wrecking-machine was selected to debut in Game I. So far, so true. Napa, 24, is a defensive throwback – he shuns the modern tackling trend of ball-containment and instead catapults his massive bulk at the carrier with murderous intent. And runs the ball with the same ferocity. With pack mate Josh McGuire, Napa’s berserk second half in Game II is credited with propelling the Maroons comeback. Two-try hero Dane Gagai said of Napa after the Sydney win: “For him to come back and screaming... ‘Give me the ball!’, it’s just inspirational.” And that might be his greatest impact – the ability to inspire.
Injury and a line-up reshuffle curbed Wallace’s involvement in Game II, but he gave a good account of himself in 22 minutes of action. The big prop is hungry for more work though, and he’ll certainly get it in aiming up to subdue a formidable and mobile Blues pack.
The Melbourne forward will be aiming to pick up the pace tonight, following a bumpy start to his Game II debut. The backrow forward found out early that you don’t ease your way into Origin; but quickly discovered his rhythm on the field, providing valuable defensive support for his team. Before his first game, Storm and Maroons skipper Cameron Smith said he was a “huge fan” of Glasby. “He's just the type of player that you need in Origin football.”
Kangaroos winger Valentine Holmes impressed on his Origin debut in Game II, flirting with the sideline to score the game’s first points. He will be a key Game III weapon for the Maroons, who will be looking for him to drift in to use his speed to test tiring Blues forwards with plenty of darting runs.
Looking to make an impact off the bench after plenty of criticism during the lead up of his selection over Daly Cherry-Evans, Ben Hunt’s speed off the mark will prove dangerous around the ruck and some tiring opposition forwards. Given the uncertainty around Cooper Cronk’s playing future the Rockhampton junior will be looking take his chances tonight to make a statement on a potential replacements on a vacant Maroon number 7 jersey in the not too distant future.
See the boys in action at Camp Maroon in the video above.