Few are relishing the prospect of the NRL’s first-ever all-Queensland grand final as much as Maroons chief selector Des Morris.
As Brisbane and North Queensland fight it out for premiership glory at ANZ Stadium, Morris will be making mental notes aimed at boosting Queensland’s State of Origin grip for years to come.
Morris is proud of the fact that both teams are spearheaded by a clutch of Maroons stars.
Their importance was obvious when Brisbane’s Justin Hodges, Corey Parker and Sam Thaiday fronted Thursday’s grand final media conference alongside Origin teammates from the Cowboys in Johnathan Thurston, Matt Scott and Michael Morgan.
And he’s sure more uncapped players from the two Queensland powerhouse clubs will be pressing their cases to join them in the Maroons.
“I think it’s great for all Queenslanders, to be honest,” said Morris.
“We’ve seen these guys come through, there’s plenty of Origin guys in there and guys in our emerging squads, and also talent that’s emerged in the last 18 months or so.
“Both clubs should be very proud of the fact they’ve got a lot of Queenslanders, for a start, and that they’ve been able to perform to that level.”
Of all the exciting match-ups on Sunday, Morris is hanging out to see the battle of the halves combinations between Cowboys superstar Johnathan Thurston and Origin offsider Michael Morgan and Brisbane’s dynamic rising stars Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford.
Morris admits the latter look like Queensland halves-in-waiting.
“You’d be surprised if they weren’t,” Morris told AAP.
“Their combinations have been first-class. There seems to be a bit of mental telepathy between them sometimes.
“Hunt’s just gone on in leaps and bounds and now he’s formed this combination with Milford, and obviously they’ve gone to another level.”
The beauty of it for Morris is that a Hunt-Milford starting combination for the Maroons is still years away.
Thurston and Cooper Cronk have shown no signs of slowing down, nor has Morgan, while Daly Cherry-Evans also remains in the queue.
“You’ve got to remember, we’ve still got a couple of other blokes that are in the wings,” Morris said.
“Obviously it’s a great asset for Queensland that that’s the case.”
But does it make his job easier or harder?
“A bit of both, mate,” Morris said.
“It’s a bit of a relief and it’s great news for the team that you’ve got that sort of talent to draw on.
“It’s all very promising going forward.”