Lillyman to step up in Scott's absence
He's the body and soul who most resembles Matt Scott but Maroons prop Jacob Lillyman insists he doesn't feel any extra pressure to step into the shoes of his injured kindred spirit when he lines up for his 14th Origin appearance next Wednesday night.
The season-ending knee injury suffered by Scott in Round 2 against the Broncos may have played a part in Lillyman retaining his place in the squad, although he faced an anxious wait after two disappointing Warriors displays in the lead-up to the team announcement.
Hailing from the remote Queensland communities of Richmond and Longreach respectively, Lillyman and Scott both made their Origin debuts in the 2006 series and the Warriors front-rower concedes he is feeling a little lost without having his former Cowboys teammate in camp.
"It is a bit different. He's a good mate of mine and I tend to have a lot of laughs at the big fella's expense," said Lillyman, who is three centimetres shorter and four kilograms lighter than Scott.
"We have been mates for a long time and whenever he is in the team it gives you a bit of extra motivation to take the field.
"We are two bushies for western Queensland so not having him, the whole forward pack feels a bit of extra responsibility to take up that slack.
"He gets spoken about so much, what he brings to the team and his leadership. He is rock solid there, it's a big vacancy, but big Dylan [Napa] is chomping at the bit. He is ready to go so that will lessen it to some extent."
As the only Warrior lining up next Wednesday night Lillyman can often be forgotten about by casual Queensland observers but he has been a member of the Maroons team in seven of their past nine games and has been a strong contributor for the Warriors.
Only Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Ken Maumalo have accumulated more run metres for the Warriors through 11 games this season but he admitted that the past two games where the Warriors have been particularly disappointing did give him some cause for concern.
"It's been pretty tough times over at the Warriors, especially the last two weeks and you wonder if it affects things," said the 33-year-old.
"It's hard to assess your form in a team that isn't going that well. I have been solid at club level so I've had that box ticked.
"You are never fully satisfied. It's been good enough for the selectors to show faith. I am not an automatic selection like some guys, so I guess I have to be ticking those boxes to get selected. I am happy to be here."
As for carrying the weight of representation for such a large part of the state, Lillyman said it was a responsibility he carries proudly, if less fashionably than Scott.
"It's a massive weight on my shoulders," Lillyman said, laughing. "But I'm proud of where we come from.
"It's outback Queensland there. I am still proud. You might see 'Thumper' (Scott) wearing the Versace slippers around, he's changed a bit, but I'll stay true to my roots.
"I've exchanged a few text messages with 'Thumper' but I haven't asked him if he's coming down for the game.
"It would be good to have him here. Hopefully he makes the trek."