Papalii and Arrow credit Origin win to former greats
Winning Queensland Maroons starting props Josh Papalii and Jai Arrow said the desire to honour the legacy of Shane Webcke and Petero Civoniceva inspired their powerhouse displays in the State of Origin series finale at Suncorp Stadium.
Arrow ran for 105m and Papalii 124m - including 69m from kick returns. Their powerful surges gave the Maroons momentum and the halves space in the 18-12 win. The duo also made 20 tackles each.
The vital component of their contribution was the way they quickly asserted authority in what was the first time either had started in the front-row for Queensland.
Last week Webcke and Civoniceva entered Maroons camp for a dinner with the team at Allan Langer's favourite Chinese restaurant in Brisbane.
While partly a social visit for an old-fashioned bonding session, the presence of the two greats had a massive impact on the forwards, and in particular Papalii and Arrow.
Webcke wore the No.8 and Civoniceva mostly the No.10 in their stellar Origin careers and the symbolism was not lost on the new Maroons props of 2018 vintage.
Their presence gave Arrow and Papalii the desire to honour the two greats' legacy.
“Webcke and Petero are idols for the up-and-coming young front-rowers in Queensland and they will be for a long time,” Papalii told NRL.com.
"In camp, they spoke about their legacy and what they have done for this jumper and I took that on board.
"They were just tough and you knew when they were playing that they wouldn't stop until they got that win.
"That was the first time I had started as prop for Queensland so it was important for me and Jai to set a high standard and hopefully we can do that next year."
Arrow expressed similar sentiments and told NRL.com that he had made a pact with Papalii prior to the game to feed off each other.
"They were champion players for Queensland for many years and to have them come into camp and talk to us and let us know where we could improve was massive," Arrow said of the two retired legends.
"Petero and Shane came in and said 'you've been doing a great job and keep it up' and to take the opportunity with both hands and enjoy it.
"They would run the ball hard and tackle even harder and that is something I pride myself on.
"I was out there to bust my arse for the boys and I thought Josh did a great job. He came off the back fence and we worked for each other, and that is what we spoke about during the week.
"I'd love to keep doing it. I want more of it."
The honour of starting was also not lost on Arrow who received a spray from NSW supporters early on in the piece, which only fired him up more.
"It is a massive responsibility and to get the opportunity to start in what has been a great team for many years was a surreal feeling," Arrow said.
"When I was walking past the Blues section in the crowd they booed me and I loved it. It made me want to win more.
"To pull on this jersey and to run out in it at Suncorp Stadium is a moment I'll never forget. We didn't win the series and that is something I am looking forward to doing."
Papalii said it was "sad" to lose the series but was proud of the fact that the Maroons had been able to send retiring skipper Billy Slater out in the appropriate way.
"We were back at Suncorp. The atmosphere was awesome. It was Billy's last game. We just didn't want to let him down," Papalii said.