Maroons' captains loom as an Origin ace - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Maroons' captains loom as an Origin ace

By Wayne Heming 29/05/2009 04:29:28 PM Comments (0)

Queensland's elite "captains' club" could be its State of Origin ace card against an untested NSW side in next week's opening game of the series in Melbourne.

Apart from a massive edge in Origin experience across the park, the Maroons have five NRL club captains in their starting XIII who have shared in Origin, Test and premiership wins.

Darren Lockyer (Brisbane), Petero Civoniceva (Penrith), Steve Price (Warriors), Cameron Smith (Melbourne) and Johnathan Thurston (North Queensland) all captain their clubs.

It's a leadership brainstrust which between them boast 1,137 NRL games, 103 Origins and 124 Tests for Australia.

The Blues can't come within cooee of matching Queensland's leadership experience given their side for game one next Wednesday night contains seven rookies.

They have three players in charge of their NRL clubs - rookie hooker Robbie Farah, Newcastle's Kurt Gidley and Cronulla's Paul Gallen, who may yet be stripped of his captaincy in the fallout from his alleged racist remarks which have put him offside with some of his own teammates.

Prop Luke Bailey is co-captain of the Gold Coast with halfback Scott Prince.

Even including Bailey's record, the Blues leadership group can only muster 553 NRL games, 23 Origins and 15 Tests between them.

Another interesting statistic to note is the combined career winning average of Queensland's 17 players is up from 58.4 per cent from game three last year to 61.5 per cent while NSW have dropped from 56.2 per cent to 51.5 per cent.

Queensland's big-game experience may not guarantee them a win.

But it gives them an advantage should the result be in the balance in the crucial final minutes.

Shooting for an unprecedented fourth straight series win, Queensland can also claim a decided edge in the key 7-6-9-1 battle with Thurston (12 games), Lockyer (27 games), Smith (16) and Billy Slater (8) all having played Origin together.

In comparison, their inexperienced opponents, Peter Wallace (two games), Terry Campese (0), Farah (0) and Gidley (4) have a week to hone a winning combination.

"We can gel pretty quickly, it's important we do," said Brisbane No.7 Wallace, who has reclaimed his Origin jumper after missing last year's decider.

A shock selection for the opening game last year, Wallace took to Origin like a duck to water after a crash course from former halfback great Andrew Johns.

"I got the call late. I just got chucked in last year, it was all a bit rushed," he said.

"I played pretty well with Robbie (Farah) for City Origin and I'm sure we'll pick things up quickly.

"He's very good at getting forwards going forward and I just play off the back of that."

Wallace says going up against Lockyer will be a highlight.

"I was hoping to play against him last year because of the challenge he presents but he was injured," he said.

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