Queensland prop Nate Myles was never a certainty to return to the Maroons side.

Why Maroons selectors showed faith in Nate

Not even the admission from Nate Myles's own grandfather that the Manly prop wasn't playing well enough to warrant selection for Queensland could dissuade Maroons selectors from picking him for a 30th time in Game One of the 2016 Holden State of Origin Series.

As the Sea Eagles have struggled to find consistency under new coach Trent Barrett and with a completely remodelled playing roster Myles has been unable to stand out, but standing out has never really been his thing.

The man himself will deride the lack of fast-twitch fibres in his legs and lack of anything resembling even a little bit of footwork at the line but the Maroons have got a job for Myles to lock up the middle of the field and after 29 appearances they know he'll get it done.

His selection was by no means a fait accompli – Cameron Smith's No.9 jersey is the only one that is – but long-time Queensland selector Des Morris said his position in the team was never truly in any doubt in their minds.

"Nate is one of those unsung heroes who does the hard work all the time, very consistent, never lets anyone down and everyone in the team knows they can rely on him," Morris said.

"We really have to justify to ourselves that they will be able to perform at that level. It's all right saying that you play the loyalty card and that sort of stuff but the reason the loyalty card is there is because they've never let you down.

"You might see them struggling a bit in their club footy or whatever but whatever that magic is when all those guys get together it just brings out the best in them and then it brings out the best in the other guys around them.

"While it looks like an easy decision from the outside and at the end of the day it probably is we don't simply walk in and say 'Mylesy' will be 13.

"Probably all of us in the back of our mind think he is going to be there anyway."

 


His front-row partner Matt Scott feels more assured when Myles is standing alongside him and even the man slated to take his place in the starting team, Josh McGuire, is relishing the chance to spend another week in the company of the 215-game veteran.

Should he play in all three Origin matches this year Myles will move past rugby league royalty in Wally Lewis and Brad Fittler to sit tied for sixth with Mal Meninga for all-time Origin appearances and former Titans teammate Greg Bird is expecting Myles to respond to criticism in the only way he knows how.

"He turns up every year and bashes us up," said Bird, who returns to the Blues team on Wednesday night after missing the 2015 Series through suspension.

"He's been their leading front-rower for years now. It's understandable that it doesn't really matter what his club form is like; we know what he's capable of when it comes to the Maroons. 

"I'm expecting him to play well. He's what you'd call an Origin player. He's been there so many times, he's played 29 Origins for Queensland, won the player of the series medal before.

"He's a tough competitor and I'm sure he'll be leading their pack from the front with Matt Scott."

It's been 10 years since Myles got his Origin call-up while enjoying a beer with Bulldogs teammates Willie Mason and Mark O'Meley at the Caringbah Hotel and the dynamic around Origin has changed significantly.

A proud graduate of the old school way of rugby league, he ponders wistfully at what Origin camps must have been like back in the 1990s but recognises that it has been a change for the better.

As the spotlight on Origin has intensified so have the demands on players not only to satisfy media commitments but also those to the many sponsors who wish to be associated with the most-watched television broadcasts of the year.

"The requirements that are needed of the side now are far greater. I think players fully understand now that it's not a job anymore," Myles said of the greatest change he has witnessed in his decade-long Origin career.

"Somewhere out there, there is a kid that is looking up to what you do and gone are the days when you could throw some boots on on the weekend and play footy.

"You look at our shirts and the sponsors, there are requirements for them, there's media, signing sessions, promotions for the government and in some way you are looped into some sort of promotion.

"We get paid for this and that's now part of what we do but it just wasn't the same way.

"It's a better thing now that we have a lot more input into the community."