How will QLD’s 17 new faces deal with Origin brutality?
Maroons selector Billy Slater has challenged Queensland's crop of young guns to step up in this year's State of Origin series with more than half of the playing group yet to represent their state.
Queensland coach Wayne Bennett on Sunday confirmed his 27-man squad, of which 17 players are yet to experience the brutality of the Origin arena.
It will mean at least seven players will debut for Queensland in the series opener in Adelaide next Wednesday night, in what has sparked similarities to the Maroons miracle 1995 series.
Slater - who was involved in eight Origin series wins with the Maroons - said despite the inexperience, the high expectations of Queensland representatives was no different this year.
"We've had a few injuries and we've had to deal with them, it's quite an inexperienced squad," Slater said.
"Seventeen of our squad have yet to taste any sort of Origin in that arena.
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"It's going to be an inexperienced side but we are certainly going to lean on the experienced guys like Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Papalii and Cameron Munster.
"I look back to 1995 and even 2006 to a certain extent.
"There were a lot of players in those squads that people raised their eyebrows at, but whenever you pull on that jersey, you are expected to perform at a certain level.
"There is a certain amount of effort required and we expect no different."
The 1995 Origin series saw the likes of Matt Sing and Ben Ikin make their Queensland debuts before going on to complete stellar rugby league careers.
Maroons skipper Daly Cherry-Evans said this year's squad was similar in cultivating the next wave of Origin talent.
"There is a lot of inexperience coming into the side but they're certainly not lacking talent," Cherry-Evans said.
"We're excited with what we've got.
"We're excited with the players that have been here before and what they've shown at Origin level.
"The opportunity is there for the next wave of people to come through and show how talented they are and that they belong here.
"As a captain, that's the most important part - making sure people feel safe and comfortable in this environment.
"It's not a mistake that people have been picked in this side."
Queensland will no doubt head into this year's series as heavy underdogs because of the inexperience - but as most people know, the Maroons thrive on that challenge.
"We're certainly going to be the underdogs this year," Cherry-Evans said.
"It doesn't matter which way you want to spin it.
"We're really going to enjoy that tag.
"We'll enjoy the challenge that's ahead of us.
"I know I'm certainly excited about it and talking with the boys in camp, we can't wait what lies ahead."
MUNSTER WILL PLAY; WELCOME TO WAYNE'S WORLD
Queensland captain Daly Cherry-Evans is expecting Cameron Munster to play Origin this year despite concerns over the Storm playmaker's problematic knee.
It comes as a majority of Queensland's playing group arrived on the Gold Coast on Monday for day one of Camp Maroon.
Munster was named as part of the 27-man squad on Sunday and got through Melbourne's 26-20 grand final triumph over Penrith without serious injury.
Cherry-Evans said he expected the superstar playmaker to arrive on the Gold Coast this week after recovering from Sunday's game.
"(I'm) definitely expecting Cam to come in on Wednesday," Cherry-Evans said.
"It looked like he got through the game okay.
"If he doesn't, we'll deal with that when it happens but he's had an amazing footy season.
"He's had his knee strapped up.
"I don't know how bad it is, or if he's just foxing us but he's played some really good footy this year so he might just be bluffing us all."
Munster and fellow premiership winning Storm teammates Brenko Lee, Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Christian Welch and Felise Kaufusi, as well as Penrith's Kurt Capewell, will have a few days off before joining Camp Maroon on Wednesday.
For the rest of the squad, they were given their first address from master coach Wayne Bennett on Monday for their first day of camp.
Due to the COVID-affected series, many star players have opted to sit out this year's Origin campaign to deal with injury, leaving Bennett with 17 uncapped Maroons players in his squad.
Despite this, Cherry-Evans said the coaching triumvirate of Bennett, Mal Meninga and Neil Henry would provide a learning opportunity unlike any other that the younger players had experienced.
"We've got Wayne, Mal and Neil so it's a pretty handy coaching staff," he said.
"Monday was our first session and any chance that we got to listen … when they were speaking everyone was intently listening.
"You just want to learn.
"You get the opportunity to represent Queensland which we all strive to do as kids.
"I dare say over the next three weeks we'll get a fair bit of coaching from these three guys.
"If you don't walk away better experienced and a better educated footy player, you probably haven't been listening."
Cherry-Evans said the key to Queensland's success this year was to build unity within the group.
"What we have in front of us is a pretty good opportunity with a pretty young squad," he said.
"I feel like the best thing we can do is concentrate and make the next 10 days, training hard, getting to know each other and enjoying all this time that we've got in camp."