Inglis says new-look Maroons can emulate 2006 team
Greg Inglis insists his new-look Queensland Maroons can emulate the 2006 side and stay together for years to come as a State of Origin force.
The new Maroons captain was one of seven debutants in 2006 with the likes of Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Matt Scott and Dallas Johnson, who became mainstays of the Queensland dynasty.
Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston were already on deck and Cooper Cronk came onto the scene a few years later, but the key to the Maroons' success over the past 12 years has been the continuity of the team selections and stability in key positions.
On Wednesday night Jai Arrow, Felise Kaufusi and Andrew McCullough will make their Origin debuts and key men Dylan Napa, Jarrod Wallace, Dane Gagai and Valentine Holmes are all in the formative stages of their Origin careers.
Inglis said this group of Maroons would not be one-hit wonders despite losing 101 games of Origin experience through the retirements of Thurston, Cronk and Smith.
"I see this side here being together for the next five or six years and doing what I did when I made my debut in 2006 and continuing on as a group," Inglis told NRL.com.
"We have lost much experience, but that had to happen some day. I see this side as growing and full of potential.
"We are bringing guys through that have a few games under their belts and we have three debutants, but everyone in this squad here has what it takes to be an Origin player and represent Queensland.
"Since day one they have come in and asked questions and sat down with [coach] Kevvie [Walters] to find about how they need to play.
"Billy [Slater] and I are giving them guidance about what Origin is all about. It is not an NRL game. This is Origin, and Origin is a beast.
"You can be one per cent off in NRL and probably get away with it. If you are one per cent off in Origin you will get found out very quickly."
Inglis said he had no qualms about the capacity of the three new members of the spine to do the job long-term.
"They are all tough and brainy footballers. They are smart people," he said.
"Everyone always questions the seven and six. People questioned the seven and six with JT and Locky early on but look what JT and Locky have done for Queensland.
"With Ben Hunt, when he is on his game he is really on, and Cam Munster showed in game three last year what he's all about when he was pretty much man of the match.
"Andrew McCullough is experienced in the NRL. He's a 200-plus gamer."
Inglis said it had been a privilege for him to watch his side embrace "the Queensland way" while in camp already at Sanctuary Cove.
"We talk about team being first, but we also talk about family, being really good mates and having genuine care for each other away from the footy field," Inglis said.
"The great Cam Smith and JT did that so well. Hopefully that is what this new generation of Maroons can create for the next few years."
Inglis’ words have been embraced by rough and tumble forward Jarrod Wallace who said the new breed was ready to answer their captain's call and prove to NSW they could perform without their legends on deck.
"There's no panic," he said.
"At the end of the day, Smithy, Coops and JT had to start somewhere. They did it for years and were the best. It's a new era now, a new time and I'm stoked I get to be a part of it.
"Last year they said we don't have JT and look what happened. I hope they are sitting back thinking it will be an easy win without Cam Smith and our older players, but I can tell you right now we are up for the challenge. The new boys coming in are ready to rip in and ready to go."
Arrow and McCullough have already impressed Wallace with their approach.
"I have this feeling Jai Arrow is going to come out and kill it. He has been training the house down," Wallace said.
"He has a real aggression but a calm aggression. He is smart. If you need him to, he will chop someone in half, but if you need him to do the hard work, he will do the hard work.
"He is built for this game and we will see what he can do.
"Macca learnt the role off Smithy a bit and watched what Smithy does. He is the perfect fit. It's like he has been here for 10 years. I know he will do a great job and get through his tackles."