Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters will look to take a new approach to the senior Queensland Emerging Origin squad next season, having today announced a more streamlined team of 11 players.
This fine-tuned collection of Maroons-in-waiting acknowledges the proven success of the Emerging camp concept this past season in producing “ready-made” Origin performers where eight players who took part in the 2017 camp went on to make their Queensland debuts.
“With the smaller numbers; it lets the Origin team staff spend more time with the individuals and the players can also spend more time with each other,” Walters said of the new direction.
The 2018 squad that will assemble in late January on the Gold Coast for the camp being run in partnership with the Queensland Academy of Sport includes a handful of fresh faces to the senior Emerging Origin camp including Corey Norman who enjoyed a breakout 2017 season.
“Corey Norman is a player who has been on our horizon for some years and we feel the time is right to bring him in,” Walters said.
“He gained a lot of maturity with his football this past season.”
Another rising star of the game to be selected in the squad is Kalyn Ponga, who will be a key contributor to a revamped Newcastle Knights outfit next season.
“I have spoken to Kalyn and he has indicated that he wants to be part of the Queensland pathways which is very exciting for Kalyn and very exciting for the Queensland Rugby League,” Walters said.
“He is a player of the future so it is good news for Maroons fans that he has confirmed his allegiance with us.”
The make-up of this squad also recognises the fact that a number of past participants like Jake Granville, Korbin Sims and Moses Mbye to name a few have “graduated” from the squad as they are well aware of Queensland team expectations.
“They have been involved in these squads for a number of years and know what will be required of them,” Walters said.
“We will be continuing to monitor their progress at their clubs.”
Senior Queensland Emerging Origin squad 2018
Kyle Feldt (NQ Cowboys)
Ethan Lowe (NQ Cowboys)
Felise Kaufusi (Melbourne Storm)
Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)
Tautau Moga (Newcastle Knights)
Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans)
Lloyd Perrett (Manly Sea Eagles)
Ashley Taylor (Gold Coast Titans)
Christian Welch (Melbourne Storm)
Corey Norman (Parramatta Eels)
Brenko Lee (Gold Coast Titans)
Emerging Origin Program history
The QAS Emerging Program was established in January, 2001 by Wayne Bennett to assist talented athletes and coaches achieve excellence. Kevin Walters is the Head Coach of what is now referred to as the Emerging Origin Program, and oversees its operation; with each squad given expert coaching and support by experienced staff.
Main photo: Christian Welch, Felise Kaufusi, Moses Mbye, Ash Taylor and Coen Hess at the 2017 QAS camp earlier this year. Photo: QRL Media