Ben Ikin names his Maroons Origin team

Ben Ikin became the youngest player in State of Origin history when he was selected for the Maroons in 1995 season at the age of 18. He helped Queensland to a stunning 3-0 series win that year, and went on to play 17 Origin matches between 1995 and 2003 plus two Tests for Australia.

NRL.com asked Ikin, who is one of the co-hosts with NSW Origin coach Ricky Stuart on One HD’s “One Week at a Time”, to name his 17-man Queensland team for Origin I. 

Being asked to name my prospective 2011 Queensland State of Origin team was both exciting and reassuring. The Maroons are going through a purple patch in terms of the depth of playing talent available for selection, with the issue for selectors being not so much who you put in but rather who you leave out. That being said I have named the 17 players I believe will be bestowed the honour of wearing the Maroon jersey for this year’s series.

This is the team I would choose.

Fullback – Billy Slater (Storm)
Slater is the most dangerous attacking player in the game and covers more meters off the ball than anyone else in the competition. This bloke is continually asking questions of the opposition defensive line and has the rare gift of making players around him look better than what they really are.

Left Wing – Darius Boyd (Dragons)
Boyd has been in outstanding form for the Dragons over the past two and a half seasons and history shows he is more than capable playing on the wing for the Maroons. He is a great dummy-half runner and is very safe under the high ball.

Left Centre – Greg Inglis (Rabbitohs)
One of the NRL’s premier players and loves the big games. Despite not yet having displayed his best form for the Rabbitohs he will be more than up for the potential clash with Mark Gasnier come Origin time.

Right Centre – Justin Hodges (Broncos)
It’s amazing how well Justin Hodges has come back from a 2010 season spent on the sidelines. He is nearly unstoppable with the ball in hand and makes a habit of man handling his opposite number when in defence. Welcome back Hodgo!

Right Wing – Jharal Yow Yeh (Broncos)
Jharal has been in great form for the Brisbane Broncos and delivered a polished performance in his test debut for the Kangaroos. He is big, strong and fast and looks like being a feature of Maroons sides for years to come.

Five-eighth – Darren Lockyer (Broncos)
What do I say except good luck champ, I hope the boys send you out on a winning note!

Halfback – Jonathan Thurston (Cowboys)
What a start to the season for Jonathan Thurston. This guy has to be one of the most competitive players I have ever seen and it’s great to see him destroying opposition defences the way he used to. Thurston looks well rested after his rep footy-free off season, which spells danger for the Blues come Origin time.

Front Row – Petero Civoneciva (Panthers)
Like Darren Lockyer this bloke is an automatic selection. I still find it humorous that Civoneciva and Steven Price were labelled by many as too old and too slow back in 2006 ... silly really.

Hooker – Cameron Smith (Storm)
Probably the most valuable player in the game today and most definitely the best in his position in the world. No dummy half gets more out of their forwards than Smith and I believe that Queensland would not have enjoyed their recent success had this bloke not arrived on the scene.

Front Row – Matt Scott (Cowboys)
Petero Civoneciva has anointed Matt Scott the next front row leader for the Maroons and Australia, which is a tag he has more than lived up to. Scott has come on in leaps and bounds over the past two and a half seasons, maturing both as a player and a leader. One of the more dynamic ball runners in the front-row club and has improved his fitness to the point where a high work rate is now one of more prominent parts of his game.

Second Row – Nate Myles (Roosters)
The Roosters are struggling and I have seen Nate Myles play better football but the one thing this bloke has always managed to do is step up when State of Origin arrives. Myles has real size and power and the unique ability to play footy before the line and through the line. The tougher the contest the better Nate Myles performs, which is why he is a favourite with Queensland Origin selectors.

Second Row – Sam Thaiday (Broncos)
He is one of the more devastating ball runners and his combination with Darren Lockyer has spelled trouble for opposition teams in both the NRL and State of Origin over the last few seasons. Thaiday possesses one of the best low tackling techniques I have seen from a big man and has also transformed himself from an impact player into a workhorse that isn’t afraid to play out the full 80 minutes.

Lock – Ashley Harrison (Titans)
When Trevor Gillmiester says you're tough that means you're unbreakable. This was the Axe's opinion of Gold Coast Titans lock forward Harrison, who has more than filled the hole left by Dallas Johnson a couple of years back. Despite Johnson's return to the NRL I expect that Harrison will retain his position and then show everyone why.

Interchange
David Shillington (Raiders) – one of the game’s best front rowers on his day and has been outstanding for the Maroons since given his chance.

Ben Hannant (Broncos) – in sparkling form for the Brisbane Broncos since his return from injury and will be a welcome addition to the Maroons front row rotation.

Dave Taylor (Rabbitohs) – is a giant of a man who has the speed of a winger and the hands of a five eighth. Taylor will terrorise the Blues right hand edge defence with his bullocking runs and silky skills.

Cooper Cronk (Storm) – one of the best players in the competition who brings a real energy with him into each and every contest.

Ben Ikin's Queensland Origin team
1. Billy Slater
2. Darius Boyd
3. Greg Inglis
4. Justin Hodges
5. Jarahl Yow Yeh
6. Darren Lockyer
7. Jonathan Thurston
8. Petero Civoneciva
9. Cameron Smith
10. Matt Scott
11. Sam Thaiday
12. Nate Myles
13. Ashley Harrison
Interchange
14. David Shillington
15. Ben Hannant
16. Dave Taylor
17. Cooper Cronk