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Fresh-faced Maroons' old-school approach

·3-min read

Tongues wagged over teenager Reece Walsh's shock inclusion but within Queensland camp it's a hard-nosed veteran providing State of Origin inspiration.

Pack leader Josh Papalii has revealed former forward-turned Maroons assistant coach Nate Myles is fuelling their fightback, insisting the forwards must "take it personally" and lay the platform for 18-year-old fullback Walsh to shine at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

Papalii missed Queensland's 50-6 Origin I mauling in Townsville through suspension and will bolster a Maroons pack that had their colours lowered by the Blues.

That dominance allowed backs James Tedesco (212 run metres), Brian To'o (233m), Josh Addo-Carr (101m), Latrell Mitchell (167m) and Tom Trbojevic (221m) to run riot on a record-setting night.

Injuries to Kalyn Ponga, AJ Brimson and Harry Grant meant coach Paul Green had no choice but to shuffle his deck for Origin II, moving Valentine Holmes to the wing and paving the way for Walsh's remarkably swift debut.

It's a move NSW great Andrew Johns believes smacks of desperation.

But Papalii says Walsh won't even get a chance to prove that wrong if Queensland's forwards are again outplayed and is urging his fellow big men to take a leaf out of Myles' book.

"(Myles) was my roomie for the first couple of years and he just took everything personally and it means the world to him this week," Papalii said.

"I bring my experience from back in the day when (playing with Myles) we took stuff personally.

"It was very hard to see the boys go through that kind of game (in Townsville), very hard to watch.

"Their backs were just playing off their forwards and you can only do all the flashy stuff if the forwards go forward."

Walsh has played just seven NRL games and that inexperience had Johns and Blues coaching great Phil Gould lining up to criticise a selection they think will backfire.

His Maroons teammates have seen enough to think he'll handle the occasion though.

"There's always going to be doubters when someone that age is picked in the team, but there's full confidence in Reece, what you see is what you get," hooker Andrew McCullough said.

"I spent the pre-season with him (at the Broncos) and he's certainly a good, confident kid and just another guy with a different path to Origin.

"He's here for a reason, has that X-factor and there's 16 other blokes that are going to get behind him."

The threat of Trbojevic, who scored three tries in Origin I as he defied the traditional centre role and roamed on both sides of the ruck, remains.

That, and Grant's injury, is why the Maroons have swollen out to $4 long shots with bookies to force a Sydney decider.

"Far out he's going to be hard to handle," Maroons back-rower Felise Kaufusi said of Trbojevic.

"He pops up everywhere so we'll need to limit where he gets the ball.

"Our backs our against the wall but we love a fight ... they always find a way to pin us on the back fence and it's up to us to turn it."

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