Their ban may have been lifted but Queensland’s misbehaving Emerging Maroons won’t find it any easier to earn State of Origin selection next year.
Queensland Rugby League boss Peter Betros has issued the sobering warning, admitting some of the suspended Emerging Maroons may never get another Origin chance.
The Maroons’ depth will be boosted next year when a 12 month ban on Valentine Holmes, Cameron Munster, Ben Hunt, Anthony Milford, Jarrod Wallace, Dylan Napa, Edrick Lee and Chris Grevsmuhl expires.
The eight players were not considered for Origin duty this year after breaking curfew at January’s Emerging Maroons camp – Kevin Walters’ first official function as new Queensland coach.
But Betros said none of the eight players would be given a saloon passage into the Maroons team.
“The ones who decided to have a night out instead of behaving themselves might have to wait a bit longer,” Betros told AAP.
“Some may have missed their opportunity (altogether) due to their behaviour earlier this year.”
The banned eight were kicking themselves after three players leapfrogged them to make their Origin debut this year – backrower Gavin Cooper and backs Corey Oates and Justin O’Neill.
Queensland selectors are known for their loyalty, and Betros did not expect that habit to change next year.
“Have a look at a guy like Justin O’Neill,” Betros said.
“There was an opportunity to come into the side this year and he has taken his chance with both hands.”
One vacancy has been created by Queensland veteran lock Corey Parker’s retirement.
But Betros could not see a dramatic changing of the guard for the Maroons any time soon despite nine players being on the wrong side of 30 in their last 17.
Queensland captain Cameron Smith – who has played a record 39 Origins – and veteran playmaker Johnathan Thurston are expected to keep playing until 2018.
“I can’t see too many other changes if everyone stays fit and well,” Betros said.
“Cameron and John have at least one or two years left in them.
“Corey (Parker) is not easy to replace but there are plenty of young guys knocking on the door.
“It’s just that some of them (Emerging Maroons) will have to wait their turn.”