Want a Queensland jersey?
That was the blunt message from Maroons captain Cameron Smith after criticism an ageing Queensland missed a chance to blood youngsters in next week’s State of Origin dead rubber in Sydney.
There were calls that the Maroons should have looked to the future and injected new faces into their 17 for July 13’s Origin III after Queensland sealed their 10th series win in 11 years.
Instead Queensland made two injury enforced changes to their Origin III team, adding veteran forwards Nate Myles and Gavin Cooper.
It ensures the Maroons will boast nine players 30 years or older in their team – not exactly a glimpse into Queensland’s future.
But Smith, 33, agreed with the changes, saying Queensland jerseys were earned – not simply given away.
He cited Cooper as an example after the 30 year old North Queensland backrower finally earned an Origin debut in his 11th NRL season.
Veteran prop Myles, 31, returns to the team after missing game two with a knee injury.
“Origin jerseys shouldn’t just be handed out to anyone, not just given away,” Smith said.
“Gavin Cooper has been playing some good footy for a long time now.
“He was a big reason why they won that premiership.
“He deserves his opportunity.
“I don’t really believe in succession plans or thinking ‘because we have wrapped up the series let’s give a young bloke an opportunity.
“If he is forcing his way into the team that is when he is ready to be here.”
Retiring Queensland lock Corey Parker agreed with his captain as he prepared to play his 19th and final Origin on Wednesday week.
Parker is another good example of earning your Origin spurs.
He played three games from 2004-05 then had to wait six years for his next Origin.
The 34-year-old is now an integral part of the Maroons pack.
“Why would we be blooding youngsters?” Parker told AAP.
“We got the job done in the first two games.
“Queensland picks a team to do a job.
“You don’t pick teams to just blood them.
“You pick them because they are the best to do the job.”