On the Eve Of Origin, Queenslanders remain confident as youthful Maroons side prepares for Game 1 with far fewer cracks in the squad than last year.

Queensland starts a new era on Wednesday night, after Billy Slater and Greg Inglis joined fellow future Immortals Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk in representative retirement.

It is the first time since 2003 that Queensland will play without any of the 5 one-in-one-hundred-year players that made up decade of dominance.

Many thought this may be the time for the next generation of the sky blue Ferraris in the NSW backline

However, even with another Southern victory almost written after last year, something is not right in the rugby league universe – and the Blues know it.

The Newcastle Knights are currently sitting at number four, and it isn’t because of homegrown talent.

It’s because of Kalyn Ponga, the next Messiah to wear Maroon tomorrow night. A mix of Mackay and Mt Isa, in his first run-on match.

But before he begins the journey towards humbling the Southern carpetbaggers, he must fly North for his blessings.

“You know, we are proud of you, son” says a throaty Bob Katter, sitting on a park bench down the street from his Mt Isa electoral office.

“I said the same thing to Johnathan when he was your age”

Bob Katter looks off into the distance, before continuing his sentimental pep talk.

“We saw it in you at Mackay when you were a kid”

“And we knew you wouldn’t let living down that way get to you. You may have left Townsville behind… but when you put on that Maroon all I see is JT, Wally, Alf… Artie”

Ponga’s eyes begin to well up as he becomes acutely aware of the responsibility now laying on his shoulders. Katter grabs his forearm firmly.

“It’s time to step on some cockroaches, son.”

“Show these tattooed up little Sydney boys how we do it in the Deep North”

Queensland by 13.


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