Why Corey Norman is ready for the Maroons
MOST people who consider themselves rusted-on fans of our code no doubt believe they are pseudo experts. And after investing their heart and soul into the game they love, why not?
But how many of us would like to be in the shoes of Kevin Walters, Gene Miles and Darren Lockyer if Johnathan Thurston is to miss his first Origin game since his stunning career for the Mighty Maroons started back in 2006?
The word is JT - as tough as old boots and a renowned fast healer - will be fit to take the field against the Blues on May 31 at Suncorp Stadium. Maybe not 100% fit, but fit enough to do his job.
But if he isn't right to go, the selection panel of Walters, Miles and Lockyer might have some sleepless nights between now and Monday week when Queensland's team will be named.
While JT has been a consistent match winner for Queensland during his unbroken 11-year, 36-game stint, the cupboard that houses his potential replacement is far from bare. In fact it is as healthy as it has ever been in the 37-year history of Origin.
Those waiting in the wings if JT does not make it for game one include Michael Morgan and Daly Cherry-Evans - who have been there before - as well as Anthony Milford, Corey Norman and youngster Ash Taylor. It is an impressive list, and any one of those five would get the job done.
But who gets the gong if Thurston is ruled unfit is the vexing question facing the selection panel members, two of whom have 'been there, done that' in the halves for Queensland.
Each player has his particular quality. Morgan, for instance, is a big body to defend on the edge and was a member of the winning Kangaroos just last weekend.
But his great utility value might result in him coming off the bench, where he has made his five appearances for the Maroons.
Cherry-Evans has had a checkered six-game Origin career with just the one start, as halfback in 2014 when Cooper Cronk was injured.
He has been out of favour, and form, for the past couple of years but is back to his brilliant best now and would relish the opportunity to rekindle his rep career.
Despite his undoubted brilliance with the ball, Milford, the Broncos' first million-dollar man, has flaws in his game and his performance for Samoa last weekend was ordinary, at best.
Taylor will play for Queensland one day, and could serve a tenure as long as Thurston has done, but now may be too early for him. If called on however, he would not disappoint.
But from out of left field, I would go with Norman.
He is also a big body and, like Thurston, has time with the ball in his hands.
Over to you Messrs Walters, Miles and Lockyer.