Queensland coach Mal Meninga has laughed off a suggestion to inject new blood while captain Cameron Smith described it as “outrageous” after Origin II loss.
Fiercely loyal Queensland coach Mal Meninga has laughed off a suggestion it’s time to inject new blood into his side after NSW finally ended their State of Origin dynasty.
And Maroons captain Cameron Smith went one step further, saying it would be “outrageous” for Queensland to show their veterans the door in the wake of Wednesday night’s 6-4 Origin II loss in Sydney.
Smith quickly saw the vultures circling for a team boasting six players in their 30s after NSW clinched their first series win since 2005.
“I think there will be a few people south of the border asking questions about the make-up of our team in the future,” he said.
“But to lose a series once in nine years and then want to break up the side is outrageous.
“I might be biased but I believe this will be the greatest Queensland side if not rugby league side that has ever played the game.
“I don’t see the need to change the team at all.”
Meninga then interjected: “We won’t do that, that’s not who we are.
“What they have achieved over the years has been fantastic and probably will never be repeated again.
“When you look at the annals of history a lot of these players will be deemed greats of the game.
“I feel privileged to have worked with this great group of men.”
Queensland may be reluctant for change but more injuries will force it for Origin III in three weeks after veteran winger Brent Tate (knee) and Matt Scott (facial fracture) went down.
Tate is contemplating his future after reportedly confirming he had suffered his fourth serious knee injury of his career.
It added to Queensland’s mounting injury list for the series which already included Cooper Cronk (broken arm), Josh Papalii (ankle) and Corey Parker (facial fracture).
And Daly Cherry-Evans (knee), Greg Inglis (ankle) and Billy Slater (shoulder) only played on Wednesday night after passing late fitness tests.
Still, Meninga said he felt they were “minutes away from one of their greatest wins” before NSW halfback Trent Hodkinson ‘s try and conversion in the 72nd minute snatched a rare Blues series triumph.
“That is a fair observation. These boys tried their hearts out but didn’t get the result,” he said.
“I am just so proud of these players. We are not wallowing in self pity.
“It’s not the end of the world, we will live to fight another day.”
While admitting he was a “bit confused” about what to feel at fulltime, Queensland prop Nate Myles was certain there was still plenty of life left in the old Maroon dog yet.
“I think our old boilers as they are now called are doing a pretty good job but that’s up to Mal,” he said.
Johnathan Thurston was more forthright.
“Just because we lost a series, it doesn’t define who we are,” he said.
“This has been the greatest side I have been a part of. I feel blessed.”