If the Queensland Maroons are to keep the State of Origin Series alive beyond tonight’s game against the New South Blues, they will need to rely of major contributions from Dylan Napa, Jarrod Wallace, Tim Glasby and Coen Hess.
That is rather amazing, since three of the four are Maroons rookies with no previous Origin experience.
On the surface, it would appear that if the Queensland State of Origin dynasty is to remain in force, more reliance would be on Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston, but from their positions on the field, if the front line cannot get going for the Maroons, the series is likely to be decided at ANZ Stadium tonight.
The Maroons forwards are tasked with slowing down the momentum generated by Andrew Fifita, Aaron Woods, David Klemmer and Jake Trbojevic.
That is a tall order for players making their Origin debuts, along one, Napa, who made his Origin debut in the debacle at Suncorp that resulted in the most uneven loss on home ground for a Maroons’ side in the history of Origin play.
Most who have recounted their first Origin experience freely admit that it is nothing like league play, with higher levels of intensity on every front, especially speed and physicality. Unlike league games, where there can be lulls in the action, it is breakneck pace for the entire 80 minutes when state pride is on the line.
It would be a monumental accomplishment if the three mainly untested Maroons could somehow stoke the engine room and do some scoring and to not rely on the middle and the spine, but that is what the Maroons must rely on if they are to live to see an Origin III.
Reds skipper Cameron Smith has done what he could to prepare the newcomers for their baptisms by fire, but whether or not that is sufficient will be known shortly.