New Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans insists the Queensland team he will lead can continue the proud Origin legacy of the greats that have recently retired from the representative arena.
In the last two series the Maroons have farewelled Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith – all mainstays of Queensland’s decade of dominance.
Cherry-Evans, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire, Josh Papalii and company experienced some of that success. New faces such as David Fifita, Moses Mbye and Joe Ofahengaue have not but Cherry-Evans said he had every intention of making sure they also taste the fruits of success.
"We have had a lot of Origin experience retire over the last two Origin campaigns and the remaining pieces of that Queensland legacy that was built over a 10-year period are gone," Cherry Evans said,
"Some of us were lucky enough to be involved with that though. There are some players who got a taste of that success with those older players and we will be drawing on that as inspiration and also using that as an experience to make sure we teach these younger boys the way we feel this proud Origin legacy can continue.
"It may not be with the same players but it is the same jersey running out there on Wednesday. Make no mistake we will be drawing on the inspiration from the older guys but it will be done a bit differently and there will be a lot of new faces."
Opposed session real test for injured Maroons
Cherry-Evans, who confirmed he was fully recovered from ankle surgery and ready to play the State of Origin season opener on Wednesday night, knows the great captains of the past such as Wally Lewis, Darren Lockyer and Smith are remembered for their successful reigns. It is why he said he wanted to be "hopefully a winning captain".
"The names you have just mentioned are so great because they won. They are winners and when they played at Origin level, they were successful,” he said.
"Without too much pressure on the result, I can't wait to get out there and just do my job. Leading does come naturally to me, especially out on a rugby league field.
"I'm very confident in the person I am and the footy player I am.
"Both sides are extremely talented so it's about who can nail their job on the big stage. I don't go into many games hesitating about my ability. Most games are won and lost between the ears and my head is switched on and focused for the job."
A lot has been written this week about the influence of mind coach Bradley Charles Stubbs on Maroons coach Kevin Walters, namely with regard to not mentioning NSW at any stage.
Cherry-Evans said the coach had been enthusiastic and positive as a result of his session with Stubbs.
"I don’t know the bloke personally but the impact he has had on the Queensland coach Kevvie Walters I feel has been a positive one," Cherry-Evans said.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
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"Kevvie has come into camp really excited and with a lot of belief in his playing group. That is the best part about it. Whatever has been said or done between those two, what we have seen is the benefits of a coach who has come in with a lot of belief.
"Don’t get me wrong, we certainly haven’t disregarded NSW as a side. We have done our preparation. Make no mistake we have, but what we have done is just try and make more of an emphasis on our preparation in this camp.
"While it is a little bit of a left field tactic I really do feel as though it has been a positive for this young group. We have really narrowed our focus on what we have to do on Wednesday."
In a lighter moment at the end of Cherry-Evans's press conference it was pointed out to him that he had mentioned the dreaded words of "New South Wales". The next question was: "So is that a fine for you Daly?"
"It's a $20 fine," Cherry-Evans grinned.
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