Allan Langer predicted new Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans would usher in the next golden era for the Maroons after a bronze statue of the champion half was unveiled outside Suncorp Stadium.
An emotional Langer said he was still "pinching himself" after his old halves partner Wally Lewis was by his side when the honour was bestowed upon him.
Langer soon turned his attention to the current Queensland half and said he would be a "great captain".
"Hopefully he will be there for years to come. It is the start of a new era," Langer said.
"Coming back into the side last year, Daly proved to himself what he can do with the Maroons and he has shown his leadership qualities over the years at Manly. Seeing him at camp this week with the young guys it has been pretty special.
"I am very excited about DCE's combination with Cameron Munster, and the spine. We all know what Kalyn Ponga can do and certainly Ben Hunt at hooker. I think it is a special line-up but you have to be at your best on the night."
Langer said he was heartened by the new players the Maroons had brought into the squad in David Fifita, Joe Ofahengaue and Moses Mbye and insisted veteran Matt Gillett would assist Cherry-Evans with his leadership as a loyal lieutenant by his side.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters backed up Langer and said he had full confidence that Cherry-Evans would deliver a special performance on debut as skipper in the Holden State of Origin series opener at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday night.
The coach and captain have forged a close bond already in camp with Cherry-Evans stating on Monday that Walters "has my back".
"DCE has been really, really good. Last year when he came in for game three I felt an instant connection with him and knew straight away the leadership in him,” Walters said.
"He has been through so much as a player mentally and I feel that has put him in a really good position to bounce back the way he has.
"We expect our captain to lead us tomorrow night and DCE will deliver. He has done it before for us here last year and I have every expectation that he will do it here again tomorrow night.
"Certainly he will get support from 16 other guys. He can't do it by himself and he won't do it by himself, but what he will have is 17 Queenslanders willing to get in there and fight and dig for every centimetre on that turf tomorrow night."
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
- Nine Network
The Maroons have a plan to rock the Blues with their left-side attacking combination of Cameron Munster and Kalyn Ponga. Walters said it "remains to be seen" whether Ponga can become a Maroon great as Billy Slater was but backed him to unleash his best.
"We know what he can do in clubland, he's been in some great touch there," Walters said.
"Kalyn has just got to be Kalyn Ponga. I know he will bring that tomorrow night with his attack and defence. We got a little glimpse of him last year in game two playing in the middle and we saw what type of player he could be.
"Now he is in his favourite position back at fullback and like every other Queenslander I am really excited to see what he does at Origin level."
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