MAROONS assistant coach Michael Hagan believes Korbin Sims is tailormade for Origin as Queensland hierarchy prepare to ramp-up their succession plan for interstate dominance.
With the Maroons empire looking to strike back this season after their run of eight straight Origin series wins ended last year, Queensland powerbrokers are wary of their record-breaking team growing old overnight.
And while their forward pack has been the cornerstone to success, a grey tinge is emerging.
Inspirational starting prop Nate Myles turns 30 this year. So does back-rower Sam Thaiday.
Unheralded bookend Jacob Lillyman is 31, tackling machine Corey Parker is 32 and then there’s Ben Te’o, whose departure to play rugby in Ireland leaves a vacancy on the interchange bench.
At 23, the Newcastle tearaway is in his second full season of NRL and has piqued the interest of Maroons coach Mal Meninga with his aggression and passion for the contest.
They are the qualities that thrive in the Origin cauldron and Hagan, who played five matches for Queensland in 1988-89, can envisage Sims pulling on the Maroon jumper.
“Korbin has made his intentions clear he wants to play for Queensland, which is great,” Hagan said.
“He was invited to our Emerging Origin camp this year so he’s one of a few guys being looked at for the future.
“I like that he has a great motor and he’s very aggressive. Rick Stone (Newcastle coach) has shown confidence in him and if he keeps doing the job he could be a first-grader in the front row for a long time.
“He will need time to get his head around a starting role. But he’s playing against guys like Matt Scott (Maroons prop) and James Tamou in the NRL so that’s a great learning experience for him.”
Sims’ desire to represent Queensland has ignited such fury his older brothers, NSW-aligned Ashton and Tariq, refuse to discuss his Origin defection at the family dinner table.
Under the code’s new eligibility guidelines revised in 2012, Korbin ticks every Blues box. He was born in the NSW town of Gerringong, attended school in NSW and, like Ashton and Tariq, played the majority of his junior football south of the border.
But a move to the Broncos at age 16 qualified Korbin for the Maroons’ under-16s and under-18s outfits just before the introduction of Origin’s beefed-up eligibility rules.
“It would mean everything to wear that Maroon jumper,” said Sims, who is contracted to the Knights until the end of 2017.
“I’d love to break into State of Origin and that’s why I’ve trained so hard in the off-season, to have my foot in the door to say to Mal: ‘I’m ready’.
“I just need a good start to the season. I’m not trying to put too much pressure on myself and if it doesn’t happen this year, that’s OK. But if the opportunity arises, I won’t let the boys down.”
With Myles entering his twilight years, Sims is young enough and tough enough to partner Scott.
His journey to the NRL is not without adversity. At the end of 2010, he was shown the door by the Broncos, but Sims was thrown a lifeline by the Knights and revelled in his first full season of NRL last year.
The 108kg aggressor admits there is no chance of being brainwashed by his Blues brothers.
“We actually don’t talk about it anymore,” Korbin said.
“It’s become a very touchy subject. Ashton and Tariq are passionate Blues and they get pretty fired up about my feelings.
“I don’t care what anyone says, I’m a Queenslander. They probably don’t respect my decision but I’ve made up my mind, I qualified under the old rules, so I have no regrets.”