Arrow hits the mark to launch Maroons bid
BOOM Gold Coast lock Jai Arrow has emerged as a bolter for a Queensland Origin jumper with the Titans tearaway outperforming nearly every current Maroons forward.
Arrow has had an outstanding start to his first season with the Titans, starring as one of their best players in the opening five rounds to help the Gold Coast into sixth spot on the NRL ladder.
The former Bronco has been praised for his early consistency and ability to deliver even when the Titans have struggled.
And now his form has made Kevin Walters stand up and take notice, with the Queensland coach admitting Arrow is putting pressure on the incumbent Maroons pack.
After the opening five rounds, Arrow is outplaying the competition, particularly in attack, averaging 156m a game off 17 runs. He has also made eight offloads and 11 tackle busts.
In comparison, Broncos lock Josh McGuire is averaging 124m a match while Cowboy Coen Hess, last year's Maroons bolter, is the next best for offloads with four.
Arrow, 22, is also proving to be a defensive workhorse with an average of 26.8 tackles a game.
Walters, approaching his third series as Maroons coach, said he had been impressed by Arrow's form and maturity in a demanding position.
"He can certainly put some pressure on," Walters said of Arrow's Origin chances.
"He's a younger footballer but it doesn't put him behind anyone. He's showing a lot of maturity.
"He's been the Titans' leading player and leading forward and you need guys like that to stand up.
"He will be ready for (Origin) if the opportunity does come. He's had some really good performances and done lots of work but it's the quality of that work that's impressive."
Walters has some big selection decisions to make this year, with Cowboys co-captain Matt Scott to return from a knee injury and Raiders prop Josh Papalii sent to reserve grade last week.
Melbourne's Tim Glasby was a shock selection last year and is under pressure to retain his berth while Arrow could be irresistible if he continues his sensational form.
Walters was particularly happy with the 99kg Arrow's efforts in the front row in Round 2 and the way he "stood up" to the Warriors pack.
While Arrow will make just his 30th NRL appearance against Penrith at Panthers Stadium on Sunday, he said Origin is the next step for him and it would be a "dream come true" if he was selected for the 2018 series.
"That's the next step up," Arrow said.
"(It) would be a great experience for me (to be invited into a Queensland camp).
"They have got some of the greats there who have been successful for so many years now. That would be pretty cool.
"Everyone wants a taste of Origin, but my first focus is to play consistent footy for the Titans and enjoy myself."
Like Walters, Maroons assistant coach Trevor Gillmeister also believes Arrow is in contention for his Origin debut, labelling the young gun one of the form forwards of the competition.
"He's playing outstanding footy," the Queensland great said.
"The more blokes we have playing like him, the better at the moment. It gives Kevvie and the selectors a bit of a headache, which is a great thing.
"He's been one of the form forwards of the competition. The blokes who played last year did an enormous job but you just don't know.
"You don't want to put the mock on anyone but he's definitely thrown his hat in the mix."