Jai Arrow believes the time has come for the Maroons to create their own era of Origin dominance as he promised the entire pack would carry the load left by suspended prop Josh Papalii in Wednesday’s series opener in Townsville.
Papalii’s absence is an enormous blow to Queensland title defence, his 18 Origin appearances since 2013 leaving the Maroons outgunned in the experience stakes with just 32 Origin games between the entire pack against NSW with 41 games under their belt.
Of the Maroons' 32 games half can be attributed to two players – Felise Kaufusi (nine) and Arrow (seven) – with the rest of their big men only entering the Origin arena in the past two seasons with some yet to even win a game.
The Maroons are also much younger than NSW in the forwards, with an average age of 23.7 compared to the Blues’ 25.8.
David Fifita, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Moeaki Fotuaika are just 21, while Harry Grant and Jaydn Su’A are only 23.
Kaufusi is the oldest player in the pack at 29, while Arrow (25) and Christian Welch (26) have many years ahead in the maroon jersey giving Queensland the nucleus of a strong pack for many years to come.
"It’s definitely our time I suppose and it’s definitely a new era," Arrow said.
"I feel like I’m one of the old ones at the moment because there is obviously a lot of young boys that have come in and you’ve got Su’A, Tino, Davey, Moe they’re only young kids which is exciting.
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"I suppose it is time for us to build our own era and hopefully string a few series wins together but it all sort of starts this week."
Despite their inexperience, Arrow is confident the Maroons know how to succeed at this level after last year’s surprise series triumph.
Even those players who weren’t a part of the deciding victory would carry the momentum into Wednesday’s clash at Queensland Country Bank Stadium because many were either involved in the extended squad or have taken moments to reminisce with the 2020 champions to gain inspiration for this year’s title defence.
"That was a big thing for us, no one really gave us a chance but we eventually got the job done and that was something really special and something I will always remember in my career as it was the first one I won," Arrow said.
"But this year it starts all over.
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"Origin is won on little moments and those little moments are usually around in the forwards.
"I think everyone can take it on board and make sure us forwards are sticking together and hunting as a pack and you know it’s a fast game, it’s a tough game Origin and it’s definitely won in the middle so we will definitely be addressing that and making sure we’re training well together and doing the right things to make each other better."