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Testing times for Maroons hopefuls

Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent NRL.com Mon, Jan 20, 2014 - 7:00 AM

The Emerging Maroons squad work on combinations at their training camp. Copyright: SMP Images – Scott Davis

It's the height of irony that the program that has contributed significantly to Queensland's eight consecutive State of Origin Series wins was born out of a fear that a Blues dominance was ruining the game's showpiece as a spectacle.

The year was 2000 and when New South Wales put 56 on the Maroons in Game Three of a Series whitewash, some south of the border suggested that unless Queensland could lift their act then Origin faced an uncertain future.

In the same year that Wayne Bennett established the Queensland Academy of Sport Emerging Origin camp to identify and indoctrinate future Queensland representatives, the 2001 batch of Maroons turned the tables and delivered a shock Series win of their own.

But there was more pain to follow, as the likes of Brad Fittler, Andrew Johns and Danny Buderus led the Blues to what at the time was equal to the longest winning streak in Origin history; three straight Series wins from 2003-2005.

"The crap you'd cop from kids that had come from down south, country boys from out western NSW who were up in boarding school in Brisbane, was horrible," remembers Chambers, who was a student at the famed Nudgee College when NSW won their third Series in succession in 2005.

"We were never meant to get there and we were never meant to get close to them and now we're there and been pretty dominant over the last eight years."

Chambers appears the logical replacement for Justin Hodges should the Broncos centre fail to recover in time from an achilles injury for Game One of the 2014 Series. Having already represented the Queensland Reds in Super Rugby, Chambers was part of the latest batch of Emerging Origin squad members to receive further Maroons education in Brisbane over the weekend.

Coming off an outstanding season in 2013, Roosters hooker Jake Friend has put himself in the frame as Cameron Smith's deputy and has similarly traumatic memories of the time when Queensland were apparently down and out.

"I was in high school around that time so obviously it was disappointing to watch Queensland getting beat, but it's been good the last eight years watching it," Friend says.

"The family are all Queenslanders and it was definitely a quiet household when Queensland got beat."

As he eyes a decade of dominance and with an apparent endless supply of talent knocking down the doors of selectors, NRL.com thought it would be helpful to provide Maroons coach Mal Meninga with an additional selection criteria.

We concocted five questions that we thought all Queenslanders should know the answers to and asked Emerging Origin squad members Chambers, Friend, Anthony Milford and Korbin Sims to press their claims.

We're awaiting confirmation from the QRL but we're fairly confident that the quiz master will be named 18th man for Game One.

1. Who is the Premier of Queensland?
Will Chambers: Campbell Newman.
Jake Friend: Newman. I don't know his first name.
Anthony Milford: Kevin Rudd? I don't even know his name.
Korbin Sims: Campbell Newton?

2. When did Dreamworld first open?
WC: 1993.
JF: Probably before my time.
AM: Ages ago.
KS: Well before my time. 1988?

3. How old is Wayne Bennett?
WC: 25? Nah, is there a 60? 62.
JF: A bit over 40 I think. 
AM: I honestly don't even know. 58? Something like that?
KS: Stop it... 62. His birthday's the day before mine.

4. Which of the seven natural wonders of the world is found in Queensland?
WC: Great Barrier Reef.
JF: Great Barrier Reef.
AM: I've got no clue.
KS: What's it called, it's up there. I've drawn a blank... Great Barrier Reef!

5. When were the Commonwealth Games held in Brisbane?
WC: No idea, I wasn't even alive was I?
JF: No idea, I've got nothing.
AM: 2006?
KS: 1980? 

Answers:
1. Campbell Newman
2. 1981
3. 64
4. Great Barrier Reef
5. 1982

Final score:
Will Chambers 2
Korbin Sims 1.5
Jake Friend 1.5
Anthony Milford 0

Good news for Chambers, he's taken another important step towards making his Queensland Origin debut.