Emerging Maroons camp crucial: O'Neill
Cowboys centre Justin O'Neill says the eight players banned from representing the Maroons this season will be regretting their decision to break curfew at this year's Queensland Emerging Origin camp even more now that himself and fellow Emerging Maroon Corey Oates have been selected to make their debuts for Queensland.
O'Neill and Oates chose not to go out on a boozy night during their January camp in Brisbane, with eight players making the wrong choice and suffering 12-month Origin bans as a result.
The act did not go down well with new Queensland coach Kevin Walters and it may have cost one or two a place in this year's side.
O'Neill says he knew the importance of the camp and now looks back at it happy he made the right choices.
"It was a controversial camp. I guess if you do the right thing you do get recognised," O'Neill said.
"It shows how close a lot of the boys that were on that camp are to representing Queensland.
"Corey and I came through the camp at the start of the year and have been selected. That shows how important those camps are. A lot of those boys were probably unlucky to miss out on selection.
"I think it's a decision by those boys at the time that probably wasn't the best. Those boys are probably looking back on it and feeling pretty disappointed in the choices they made.
"At the time I was pretty happy that I didn't break curfew. I woke up the next morning knowing that I did what was asked and gave myself the best chance for this year."
That chance has turned into selection for O'Neill and the 25-year-old is now being touted as Justin Hodges's long-term replacement following the Queensland legend's retirement last year.
O'Neill is lapping up the experience heading into Game One at ANZ Stadium and the Warwick-born Queenslander can't wait for kick-off on June 1.
"I'm pretty excited to be in camp with the boys and experience it all," he said.
"The last couple of days have been very full on with all the other stuff before we get into proper training.
"The media stuff and the signings that we've been doing are still very exciting for me.
"It's a great experience that the other boys tend to do all the time when they come into camp, but for me it's something I haven't done before."