Think the Queensland pack can now be pushed around without Nate Myles?
Think again NSW, Maroons captain Cameron Smith has warned.
Smith admitted losing veteran prop Myles to a knee injury for next week’s State of Origin II clash in Brisbane was a huge loss.
However, the Queensland skipper scoffed at suggestions the huge Blues forwards could now bully the smaller Maroons pack.
“With Nate out if they think they can come up here and dominate our forward pack, I don’t think they will get too many results,” he said.
Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman has been drafted into the 17 in the only change to the Maroons side that downed NSW 6-4 in the series opener.
“It (Myles out) is a big loss on the field and around the camp and experience is invaluable at this level,” Smith said.
“But we have an experienced campaigner in Jake.”
Lillyman earns his 12th Origin cap after being the only incumbent overlooked ahead of their series opening win.
Queensland coach Kevin Walters is yet to decide whether Lillyman, Brisbane prop Josh McGuire or Canberra wrecking ball Josh Papalii will start for Myles.
“We will have that conversation over the next couple of days,” Walters said.
“I feel sad that Nate isn’t playing but it was hard leaving Jake out of game one.
“I thought he had his best game in game three last year – he was probably one of the top three players.
“They are big shoes to fill but he is more than capable.”
Lillyman is averaging 120m per game and has only made three errors in 13 NRL matches this season.
But Walters was more impressed with Lillyman’s attitude after he was overlooked for game one.
“He took it on the chin. He responded well – that’s what you need to see from players,” Walters said.
“Now he gets his opportunity.”
Walters backed Smith’s call that size didn’t matter when it came to Queensland’s pack.
McGuire and Papalii more than held their own off the bench in game one against the monster Blues.
“I thought our bench were great for us against much bigger opponents – but they are going to have to do that again for us,” Walters said.
The Maroons mentor was riled at suggestions the Queensland pack may even be better off without veteran Myles who had been struggling to make an NRL impact this year at new club Manly.
He also battled away in Origin I, making 64m from eight runs in just 27 minutes.
“People like to criticise but I challenge anyone to do what Nate Myles did for the opening 25 minutes – he was outstanding,” Walters said of Myles.