HAVING wrapped up another State of Origin series – their 10th in 11 years – Queenslanders from all walks of life are crowing. And rightly so.
After being unmercifully belted by their southern counterparts prior to the advent of Origin in 1980, this current bunch of young men has pumped great pride back into the Maroon jersey.
Of the 35 series decided, Queensland has now won 20, with two drawn and the Maroons are on target to take their fifth clean sweep.
But the question needs to be asked – how long can this domination continue? How strong, for instance, will Queensland be when this current group of giants finally retires?
Corey Parker, Wally Lewis Medal winner last year, is the first of the 30-somethings to pull the pin and injured fullback Billy Slater (33) may have played his last game. And Johnathan Thurston has declared 2018 will be his last.
Throw into the mix Cameron Smith (33), Cooper Cronk (32), Matt Scott (31 in three weeks), Nate Myles (31), Gavin Cooper (31 next month), Jacob Lillyman (32) and Sam Thaiday (31), and within the next three seasons Father Time will have disassembled this unbelievable team.
But while Laurie Daley has looked to the future, with eight changes for Origin III made to the team that was hammered 52-6 in the corresponding match 12 months ago, the Maroons have stuck solid with their champions. The only players missing from that crowning glory last year are the injured Will Chambers, Josh Papalii and Michael Morgan, plus the retired Justin Hodges.
Blooded this series have been Corey Oates and Justin O’Neill, who will carry the torch for years to come, and veteran Cooper whose stay may be brief. In fact considering his age, after next Wednesday’s debut he may well join the other 15 Queenslanders to have played the lone Origin game.
The bottom line is that rookie coach Kevin Walters will soon be looking for new blood, so I thought I would give him a helping hand.
How about this for a Queensland Origin line-up in 2020: Darius Boyd (32), Corey Oates (25), Greg Inglis (33), Justin O’Neill (29), Dane Gagai (29), Anthony Milford (25), Daly Cherry-Evans (31), Dylan Napa (27), Jake Granville (28), Josh McGuire (30), Matt Gillett (30), Josh Papalii (28), Michael Morgan (28). Interchange: Ash Taylor (25), Aiden Guerra (31), Korbin Sims (28), Jarrod Wallace (28).
And among the many others in the frame will be seasoned NRL stars Will Chambers, Cameron Munster, Kyle Feldt, Valentine Holmes, Edrick Lee, Corey Norman, Moses Mybe, Ben Hunt, Ethan Lowe, Andrew McCullough, Matt Parcell and Jake Friend, as well as rising youngsters Jaydn Su’A, Tevita Pangai and Coen Hess.
Are there any prospective Immortals among that group?