Cameron Smith rates the rookie Maroons
It's been more than a decade since Cameron Smith looked around a Queensland team and saw so many unfamiliar faces.
After debuting Dylan Napa in Game One, Maroons coach Kevin Walters has brought in four debutants in Coen Hess, Valentine Holmes, Tim Glasby and Jarrod Wallace in a desperate bid to send the series to a decider back in Brisbane on July 12.
Six of the 17 who will take to the field for the Maroons on Wednesday night have the grand total of two Origins between them; almost enough for a man who has played 40 of them to feel old.
But in Wallace and Glasby Queensland have selected two forwards with maturity, Holmes is a current Kangaroo and Hess is a 20-year-old man mountain who looks as though he has been carved from pure granite.
Smith has every faith in them as footballers and says it is his job to make sure that when they run out onto ANZ Stadium on Wednesday night that they have done everything possible to play to their potential.
"They're all very good footballers in their own right, I just want to make sure that their mental preparation is right for the game," Smith said.
"This is going to be the biggest game they've played in their entire career so there's a lot of preparation that you need to do in your head to be ready for what's coming.
"I don't think the amount of work that you can do on the field or even watching State of Origin can prepare you mentally for the game.
"You ask any debutant after they've played their first game and they say they couldn't believe how fast it was, how physical it was and how much intensity it is played at for the entire match.
"You can see in the body language when they're about to run out onto the field what they're feeling.
"Most games that I play in I usually have a quick little chat before we run out just to make sure that everyone's ready to go.
"I just want to make sure that their head-space is right.
"You look at guys like Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Jacob Lillyman, Aidan Guerra, they were a part of this team for a long time because they played well and they played consistently.
"These new guys coming in, the same opportunity is there for them. They just need to grasp it and do the very best they can."
Here Smith gives his thoughts on each of the debutants and how they can contribute to a Queensland victory.
Tim Glasby (Storm)
"He's a pretty grounded guy, he's a mature guy. He's 28 so he can cop a bit of stick from people. He's been around the game for a long time but Tim is a professional. He won't worry about what's been said in the media earlier in the week. He'll just go out and play his role for the team. It's a tough role but a simple one and he always gets the job done. All of the games that I've played alongside him he's never let the team down and I'm sure he'll do the same thing for us."
Coen Hess (Cowboys)
"He hasn't looked like he's been overawed or getting nervous about what's coming on Wednesday at all. We've just told him to go out and play the way he's been playing at the start of this year, which has been fantastic. It's been quite impressive from a young guy what he's done so far for the Cowboys and if he comes out and plays that way again then he'll do a great job for Queensland."
Valentine Holmes (Sharks)
"I've played with Val a few times now, he's done the old 'reversey' with playing for the Kangaroos first before Origin. He's a premiership player so he knows what's needed in the big games. He brings a lot of speed onto our wing, there's no doubt about that, different shape to 'Oatesy' (Corey Oates) who is a big body and gets our sets started with some strong carries but Val's been doing the same the last two years. He's a very aggressive type of player and he just needs to play the way he does for the Sharks. That's the reason why he's picked in this team so if he can bring some aggressive runs back for us that will be pretty handy and obviously being on the end of the backline, making sure that he finishes our set plays strongly and making good choices in defence, that's all we need from him. You talk about confidence, he's very confident within himself to go out and play well."
Jarrod Wallace (Titans)
"He's a pretty confident fella. He was in camp for Game One and I've played against Jarrod already this year and he's been playing some pretty good footy. He's a keen learner. He's asked a lot of questions this week about my thoughts on the way he should approach the game and at different times in the game what I'd like him to do and how he fits into the structure of our footy team. It's always nice to have people who are keen to learn rather than coming in and either not asking questions or thinking that they know everything already. He's been very attentive in all of our meetings and trained with a lot of intensity."