Queensland pivot Johnathan Thurston believes NSW rookie halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds will find their Origin debut tough on Wednesday night.
They are so close that they spend end-of-season holidays together.
But even Queensland odd couple Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk’s special State of Origin bond needed time to develop.
Which is why Thurston reckons in-form rookie NSW halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds will endure a baptism of fire in Wednesday night’s Origin opener in Brisbane.
Fun-loving lad turned family man Thurston may appear to have little in common with the bookish, left field Cronk.
However, the pair have clicked so well they have helped extend Queensland’s Origin reign to an unprecedented eight straight series.
But only after some teething problems.
“It took a little while. My role had changed (switching from halfback to pivot) and he had been coming off the bench until then (Darren Lockyer’s retirement in 2011),” Thurston said of Cronk.
“But now we get on very well. We’ve been on holidays together, gone away on end-of-season trips.
“We know each other’s game very well, each other’s strengths and try to work to them as much as possible.
“He keeps the boys very structured, gets the boys around the park well and I go off the back of that.”
Thurston was the first to admit Bulldogs pairing Hodkinson and Reynolds were on fire in the NRL.
But just as he and Cronk had initially discovered, it would count for little in Origin.
“It’s going to be tough, there’s no doubt about that,” he warned the NSW pair.
“They are playing some good football at the Dogs but Origin is a whole different ball game.
“They will realise on Wednesday night what it is like.
“We need to try and pressure them there.
“But they are confident in their ability, you can see that.
“I am sure they will be looking forward to it.”
And when it comes to Origin, Thurston knows what he is talking about.
The wily five-eighth is on a record streak of 27 straight Origins since his 2005 debut that has included every game of their historic series run.
And he is just three points shy of current Queensland coach Mal Meninga’s Origin record of 161 points.
However, Thurston, 31, said: “I don’t really think about that.
“I love playing in this jersey. I don’t want to let my coach or the boys around me down.
“That’s what is in the back of my mind.”
Thurston also gave the thumbs up to veteran centre Justin Hodges (ankle), who had been nursed through the week at their Gold Coast Origin camp.
“He will be fine, it’s just old age,” Thurston said of Hodges, who turned 32 on Sunday.