Boys will be boys but Sam Thaiday admits the ageing Maroons are counting on their misbehaving young guns to change their ways and fill a looming void in the champion Queensland team.
Thaiday says he and fellow veterans will help new coach Kevin Walters as the Maroons begin State of Origin life without all-conquering mentor Mal Meninga this year.
But he concedes the likes of banned duo Valentine Holmes and Cameron Munster must learn their lesson from a disastrous Emerging Origin camp if Queensland are to extend their dominance.
Holmes issued an apology and was dropped from Cronulla’s Auckland Nines squad on Tuesday in the wake of the Brisbane weekend camp controversy that may lead to suspensions for up to six players.
Holmes and Melbourne’s Munster both copped 12 month bans from representing the Queensland Rugby League for defying Walters’ orders and breaking camp curfew.
Holmes is also being investigated by the NRL Integrity Unit after being fined for obstructing police and public nuisance early on Sunday morning.
And the QRL have not ruled out more suspensions after reports emerged up to four others ignored Walters at his first official event as Maroons coach and broke curfew.
Nine Network said the others were Brisbane’s Anthony Milford and Jarrod Wallace, Newcastle’s Korbin Sims and Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa.
Thaiday said: “They are young kids. We were all young once.”
But he admitted the ageing Queensland team needed emerging talent to grow up fast if they were to improve their run of nine Origin series wins in 10 years.
Eight of Queensland’s starting 13 in Origin I last year were on the wrong side of 30.
“We are only getting older in the Origin team,” said Thaiday, 30.
“We are going to need these young guns to fill a void at some point.
“Those guys have learned a hard lesson now and will have to work their butts off for 12 months to make sure they impress and hopefully put their hand up next year to be picked.”
Holmes was believed to have been on standby for Queensland fullback Billy Slater who is returning from a shoulder reconstruction ahead of this year’s Origin series.
“This is my first indiscretion of any sort and while I know it is totally unacceptable, I also know it certainly won’t happen again,” Holmes said in a statement.
A furious Melbourne stopped short of pulling Munster from their Nines squad.
“It is totally out of character for Cameron and what we expect from Melbourne Storm players,” Storm football director Frank Ponissi said.
“Whilst there was no suggestion of any unsocial behaviour, we support the QRL’s decision.”
Thaiday admitted Walters faced a tough initiation but backed him to make his mark in the wake of the camp drama.
“It is definitely going to be tough but we still have that core group of players who …can help Kevvie out in his role,” he said.
“But he has to come in and do his own thing.
“(However) if you watch any old footage of Kevvie playing he is a fantastic leader and that will only transition into the way he coaches.”