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Walters: Origin door open for Inglis and Smith to come back

Kevin Walters says the door is still open for Maroons legends Greg Inglis and Cameron Smith to make a comeback to State of Origin in November in what could be a huge boost for Queensland.

Walters saw Inglis earlier this year and said the 33-year-old was in great shape and "ready to go".

Since then he has been given a training program by Warrington’s head of performance to get back into elite shape as he prepares to link with the Super League club at the end of the year to prepare for the 2021 season.

Smith is still in superb form for the Storm and while the 37-year-old has not played for the Maroons since 2017, he would be a shoo-in if he came back for one last hurrah.

"Greg is part of the Queensland family and is always welcome in camp. I know he is playing with Warrington next year and is a great pick-up for Warrington so he may be available for Queensland at the end of the year," Walters said.

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"Greg being the player and professional he is knows what he can and can’t do. Greg Inglis is Greg Inglis.

"It is the same with Cameron Smith. The door is always open for these players. While they are still playing rugby league they are always welcome to throw the Maroons jumper on. How good would that be?

"I don’t know what is going to happen in that space but anyone who is available for Queensland we always have a good look at.”

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Walters was speaking at the Deadly Maroons launch of the "Good Quick Tukka" program, an initiative between the QRL and Deadly Choices to promote healthy eating in Indigenous communities.

Deadly Choices ambassador Steve Renouf, who was also on hand at the launch, said the injection of the two former Queensland captains would be "a great story".

"Like Kevvie said, Origin is always open to any of the Maroons but imagine having those two around the players with all their experience and success,” the Maroons legend told NRL.com.

"Greg and Cameron are still connected to the game. In Greg’s case he is getting back into it and Cameron is still playing great, so rugby league is still fresh in their heads.

"It would be a great story and let us not forget that those two were a big part of Queensland’s winning era so there are no better than those two to have around the team.

"We do have a shortage of centres and GI would be a great help to the inexperienced centres Queensland may have in there. I would say to Greg to make the most of the opportunity and take it.

"I was in England when Alfie Langer came back in 2001 to play Origin and they said that when he walked into Maroons camp the whole mood of that team lifted and they went on to win the series, and it would be the same with those two."

Walters said he had options in the centres despite the retirements in recent years of Will Chambers, Inglis and Justin Hodges.

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"We have got some guys who are playing there in the NRL and doing well, guys like Dane Gagai, and I see Gehamat Shibasaki is going to come back this weekend for Newcastle," he said.

"In previous years we have picked our best 17 and found positions for them. That may be the case again this year but it just depends what happens in November and in camp with who is available and ready to throw on the Maroons jumper."

While this year's Origin series will be like no other, Walters said the essence of the showpiece event in its 40th year would remain.

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"It will still be Queensland against NSW and we will go into battle," he said.

"The dates have changed but everything around State of Origin hasn’t. Even though it is being played in November the same spirit, passion and drive that our Queensland boys display will still be there in what should be a really exciting month of sport in Australia.

"We expect 24 to 26 players to come into camp at different times through the month of October and we will prepare very well for game one on November 4.

"When we get closer to the event we will sort some guidelines out with the NRL and make sure we are ticking all the boxes around the COVID virus and making sure our preparation is spot on and that we are well and truly ready."