Maroons needing crew cut for Origin
THE man who rescued State of Origin when critics were calling for the last rights to be administered in 2006 believes Queensland is close to another major overhaul to continue it's dominance over New South Wales.
When Darren Lockyer swooped on a loose ball to snatch a win in the second game of 2006 with the Blues threatening to kill off the concept with a fourth-straight series victory, he breathed new life into the interstate series.
Queensland's fightback coincided with the appointment of former maroon great Mal Meninga as coach and history now shows the changes he made to the playing roster and in restoring pride and passion in the jumper led to a record eight successive series wins.
Lockyer senses that "changeover" is happening now and will continue over the next few years with changes to key positions which have been the secret to Queensland's decade of success.
"We've changed the pilot (coach Kevin Walters for Meninga) and in the next few years we will have to replace some of the senior crew members," Lockyer (left), who still holds the record for the most Origin games of 36, told Australian Regional Media.
The truth is Queensland's side, especially its marquee players, Cameron Smith (32), Johnathan Thurston (32) Cooper Cronk (32), Corey Parker (33) and Billy Slater (32), whose career remains uncertain after more shoulder surgery, is getting older and Walters and the selectors need to be planning for life without them.
"I think we need to start getting ready for it," Lockyer said.
"If you look at some of those guys on the other side of 30, they play key roles.
"The plane is still there but the pilot (Meninga) has been changed and some of the key crew members are getting closer to the end.
"Kevvie (Walters) is aware of that and as long we're prepared for it and have a plan in place when that time comes, I think we can continue our success."
Lockyer, who is on the Queensland selection panel, admitted it would be very hard to replace the likes of Thurston, Smith, Slater, Cronk and Parker overnight.
"They're once-in-a-generation players," he said.
"There will always be talented players out there, it's just getting them into the system and making sure they understand what Origin is all about
Queensland regained the Origin shield last season after NSW ended a record run of eight straight wins in 2014.
They will already have to make a change to their world-class backline with Slater ruled out of the entire series with that shoulder injury, meaning Greg Inglis could wear the No.1 jumper in game one in Sydney on June 1.