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Some folks prefer their sports cars. Others are more interested in four-wheel drives.

And so it is, when looking back over almost 40 years of State of Origin heroics, that it is possible to equally appreciate the flashy brilliance of the athletic entertainers, and the hard graft of the honest toilers.

In fact, while it is the spectacular and sensational which is most often highlighted in promotional reels, it's the grinding effort of the workhorses which arguably embodies the Origin spirit more than anything.

With considerable effort and thought, your columnist has whittled the list down to 10 players who stood out in this regard.

The list is of course purely subjective and excludes several prominent Maroons forwards who built their game in high intensity and impact, and is instead slanted more towards those who had to stretch their cardiovascular capacity as far as it could extend.

In the same mould as his father and fellow Maroons representative John Lang, Martin was not afraid of rolling up his sleeves and putting in a hard day's work. His representative career spanned a time when Queensland wasn't always on top, but when the state had the upper hand, it had plenty to do with his relentless efforts. Few players have ever had less self-regard for their body, in comparison to their commitment to the team. His chase on Rod Wishart was the fore-runner to today's Herculean efforts in cover defence by Blues forward Tyson Frizell.

Gillett always appears to be in motion, whether in attack or defence. And while his effort is non-stop, it's the manner in which he moves which is remarkable. Whether performing a scything tackle on an opposing forward around the ruck or hitting the line at pace in hope of a line-break, he seemingly always has his foot on the accelerator. Gillett's loss has flown under the radar this season in commentary about the fortunes of the Maroons and Broncos, but don't underestimate how huge a loss it is to forego a non-stop performer in all aspects of the game.

It may seem heresy to have someone who played a fair portion of their career at centre on this list, but everything Smith did during his Origin career was tradesman-like. Could be counted on when the chips were down to dig deep and find something. Never gave up and was a competitor in so many aspects. Was famed for his kick-chase and doing the one-percenters right – and that attitude washed over the teams he played in. Some of the eminent coaches of modern rugby league were huge fans of Smith and their delight at having them in their teams speaks volumes about his worth.

Overcame the disappointment of his first Origin, where he did not take the field, to play on for three more games. From a bygone era where interchanges were few and roles were not so tightly defined as nowadays, which meant he would pop up all across the paddock. Is widely revered for his feats in the glory years of the Brisbane Rugby League when most of Queensland's homegrown stars were featuring. A roving workaholic who could turn a game with his ability to put effort on effort and outlast fatiguing rivals.

Perhaps unfairly low on this list, simply because he had so many strings to his bow. Lindner deserves to be acknowledged for his toughness and workrate, though he also gave the Maroon jersey so many other things. Was regularly among the most busy players on the pitch in a no-hold-barred period of Origin which cemented the event's legendary reputation. But then again, he was also a brilliant orchestrator and tactician who had the skill to carve up the Blues with his vision, passing and line-running. An all-time great in any language. Possibly the best forward overall in Origin times.

Like Lindner, Vautin had more to his game than straight-up, straight-down ruck play, and became known for digging deep when the chips were down. Wayne Bennett has often referenced Vautin's indomitable attitude as a reason for keeping the Maroons in contests where the score could have become nasty. Known nowadays for his larrikin, larger-than-life personality, Vautin had a much more serious, under-appreciated edge in his playing days. How someone who earnt the nickname 'Fatty' could continue to motor on until the final minutes is reflective of his fierce mentality.

The conductor of Queensland's era of dominance had it all. While his direction and command in attack are often front-of-mind in tributes, you have to marvel at the defensive workrate he maintained, regular pushing the 50-tackle mark. Smith could drive himself into the ground and still physically appear as they he hadn't stepped out of his dinner suit. Possessing the poise and focus to be a true leader of his state, he showed that the ability to pull out all stops was largely mental and a matter of desire. Quite simply, he wanted to always be in the contest.

When Billy Moore strode down the tunnel and elicited the famed 'Queenslander!' chant, it struck a chord, not only because of the moment in time, but because of what he represented. He was the bloke that loved nothing more than to pull on the jumper. The bloke that would always have a go. A guy who once pulled off 57 tackles in an Origin match. His reputation was built on doing the type of work that others couldn't maintain or weren't interested in. If it had been a winger with the latest haircut walking down the tunnel and calling his comrades to arms, it would never have made such a lasting impression on the Maroon psyche.

You can't have the name Billy Moore without Gary Larson sitting right alongside it. Yet while Moore is famed for his passionate, primordial scream, Larson was the almost-mute robot who had one setting – 'work'. He didn't generate the fanfare that others in the Queensland side of the time did, but he gave 100 per cent to his task. Reminded you of the kid who had too much sugar and seemed to have bottomless reserves of energy. Queensland was lucky to have two troopers of such a willing nature at a pivotal period in Origin's development timeline. They helped mould the mindset of the future.

Synonymous with the sacrifice and toughness Queensland expects of its chosen warriors. Johnson threw his body into contests like he was 20kg heavier. A true Maroons fan can never undervalue what he put himself through to close gaps, preserve the energy of the man beside him, and snuff out the Blues' chances of getting the upper hand. Competed on every play and bounced back whenever he was sat on his behind. His 62 tackles in a game is still one of the more remarkable Origin statistics. When a team builds its reputation on clinging on to the dying seconds, you need men like Johnson who are willing to extend their mind and body to limits others fear.