Revealed: Peter Badel’s six Maroons Origin bolters
First there was Wayne Bennett's babes.
Now the Queensland team must turn to Kevin Walters' whiz kids to torpedo New South Wales' plans for a Blues dynasty and bring the Origin shield back to god's country.
With Queensland on its knees following a 3-0 loss in 2000 and even the great Chris 'Choppy' Close lamenting the "death of Origin", the Maroons sent an SOS to Bennett, who famously blooded seven rookies in their epic 2001 series victory.
This time, with the Blues confidently marching toward a third successive crown, 'Kevvie' must show faith in a new generation of Maroons to win Origin's historic November series.
I would pick six new caps - including a hungry, all-rookie bench - for the series opener in South Australia.
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Intriguingly, my team would feature a record three Titans and a fourth future Gold Coaster in Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, reflecting the emergence of a potential NRL force under coach Justin Holbrook at Parkwood.
This is the Maroons side that can get the job done at Adelaide Oval on November 4.
PETER BADEL'S GAME ONE TEAM
1. Kalyn Ponga - Missed the series decider last year with injury but has done enough this season to hold off fullback aspirant Valentine Holmes.
2. Valentine Holmes - Back from the NFL, Holmes has had an injury-plagued season with the Cowboys, but he is a superb performer in Maroon with eight tries in just five Origin games.
3. Moses Mbye - Queensland have a centre crisis. I would have chosen Michael Morgan but his latest shoulder drama enables the versatile Mbye to start at left centre.
4. Dane Gagai - The Souths flyer has played 12 of his 13 Origin games on the wing but Gagai is ready for a move infield. Souths' finals campaign will help his fitness.
5. Kyle Feldt - Corey Oates must be axed to hand a deserved Origin debut to Feldt, who has been sensational for the Cowboys with 15 tries from 18 games.
6. Cameron Munster - One of the first players picked. Munster has had another sublime season with the Storm and is developing into a hard-nosed leader. Confidence will be sky high if the Storm reach the grand final.
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (C) - His club side Manly have had a horror year but Cherry-Evans is Queensland's premier halfback by a mile. His leadership was first-class in last year's series but must improve his scratchy club form.
8. Jai Arrow - An injury-plagued year and Arrow has lost some focus ahead of his move to Souths, but he has a work ethic tailor-made for Origin. Can absorb the early fireworks and will lift in Maroon.
9. Ben Hunt - The Dragons have been dismal this year but Hunt was Queensland's player-of-the-year last season. Roosters veteran Jake Friend is a huge threat but I expect Walters to stay loyal to Hunt, one of the side's most popular players.
10. Josh Papalii - Will be Queensland's next captain when Cherry-Evans retires. Another fine season from Papalii, who is a now a senior member of the Maroons, having amassed 15 Origin games.
11. Jaydn Su'A - Don't choke on your coco pops. Su'A lost all confidence last year but he has been a revelation under Wayne Bennett at Souths this season. With David Fifita injured, the Maroons need some mongrel. Su'A hurts when he hits.
12. Felise Kaufusi - The banker in Queensland's forward pack. Will suit up for his third Origin campaign this year and won't let the Maroons down with good habits developed from the Storm system.
13. Josh McGuire - A frustrating year for 'Moose' in a struggling Cowboys team but he is the aggressor the Maroons craves. Relishes the dirty work and his good leg speed will be crucial under the six-again rule.
14. AJ Brimson - Queensland's X-factor would relish a debut. The Titans young gun has the hot hand with 11 line breaks from just eight games this season. The Maroons need some bench spark. The versatile Brimson is lethal with his speed off the mark.
15. Tino Fa'asuamaleaui - Somebody stop him. The Maroons have lacked a mobile big man for some time but Big Tino solves that problem. At 115kg, the Storm giant could be the discovery of the 2020 Origin series. Can play on an edge as well.
16. Moeaki Fotuaika - Arguably the best young prop in the game. The 20-year-old is tough as nails, hits the line hard, has good footwork and can use the ball in traffic. Blues front-row legend Steve Roach is a fan of him. Give him a debut.
17. Lindsay Collins - The Broncos reject has been a tearaway for the Roosters. At 24, Collins won't be overawed and his fearless charges would provide the perfect impact to keep the Blues on the back foot.
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Originally published as Revealed: Peter Badel's six Maroons Origin bolters