State of Origin squads
The Queensland and New South Wales sides for State of Origin I. Photos: Getty Images
MAL MENINGA insists Queensland retain the passion and the Maroons coach has the power to back it up, with one of the most physically imposing sides in Origin history unveiled in Brisbane last night.
There were no surprises as the Queenslanders were paraded in front of a partisan crowd of XXXX-guzzling corporate diners at Suncorp Stadium, with Broncos utility forward Matt Gillett the only rookie to get a taste of the action.
Gillett forms part of a gigantic bench that almost has its own gravitational pull. He slots in alongside man-mountains Dave Taylor, David Shillington and Ben Hannant, ensuring no respite for the Blues defenders.
The Queenslanders will start with veteran Bronco Petero Civoniceva and North Queensland's Matt Scott before turning to a bench that has the capacity to bore a hole right through a NSW side that includes four debutants, a NSW Cup player and Tony Williams, who hasn't donned a boot in seven weeks.
"It's a fantastic team they've named, one that has plenty of mobility,'' Civoniceva said.
''It is going to be a huge challenge for us in the middle of the ruck, trying to stop their momentum. We've picked a pretty handy forward pack as well.
"It's one of the biggest, no doubt. With someone like Gillo off the interchange bench, Ben Hannant, Dave Shillington as well. We'll get a great rotation there.
''It's really important we're getting the metres down the middle and giving our outside men plenty of room to move."
That back line includes South Sydney's Greg Inglis, who comes into this game in what Meninga considers career-best form. The message for the Queensland halves will be simple - get him the ball.
"It's always good to have Greg Inglis coming into our camp. He is fit at the moment,'' Meninga said.
''He's playing tremendous footy for the Rabbitohs, probably the best form of his career. His work ethic has been tremendous. We've got to get him the football.''
Queensland have filled their boots with six straight Origin wins but new captain Cameron Smith was quick to dismiss any notion that they would rack the cue. When asked what the biggest danger was going into the series, he nominated the complacency of his own side, not another new-look Blues outfit.
"I think the biggest danger for us is being complacent and being comfortable with what we've done in the past six years,'' Smith said. ''What we've done so well in the past is trained so hard and not worried about what we've done in past years.''