RETIRED Maroons champion Johnathan Thurston has urged Queensland coach Kevin Walters to consider blooding Cowboys flyer Kyle Feldt as an Origin winger next season.
Feldt was a ray of hope in North Queensland’s disastrous 2018 campaign, with the strapping 102kg winger making an ominous statement to Maroons selectors with the best season of his career.
In his sixth NRL season, the 26-year-old was a model of consistency on the Cowboys’ flanks, scoring 14 tries from 24 games – including a sublime hat-trick in the Cowboys’ 44-6 rout of Parramatta in Round 24.
While Walters has two fine wingers in Dane Gagai and Valentine Holmes, Gagai wants to test himself as an Origin centre, while Holmes is eyeing Billy Slater’s vacant No.1 jersey in 2019.
That opens the door for Feldt, and Thurston is adamant the Cowboys’ 2015 grand-final hero now has the skill set and maturity to handle a Maroons debut in the code’s toughest arena.
“If that Queensland jersey does come to him, ‘Feldty’ will certainly do it justice,” said Thurston, the former Maroons playmaker.
“It’s the best pre-season he had coming into this season and his form has shown that.
“Kyle has been one of our best consistently throughout the year and when he gets his opportunity in the Origin or Test arena, he will grab it with both hands.”
Two years ago, Feldt was in serious contention for a Queensland wing spot for Game One of the 2016 series.
But in his final game before Queensland selection, Feldt had a shocker, dropping three balls in North Queensland’s derby defeat of the Broncos.
That was always the knock on Feldt: His raw talent was never questioned, but there were doubts about his mental application under pressure and whether he had the work ethic to succeed at the highest levels.
But the penny dropped for Feldt last summer.
Renowned as one of the Cowboys’ more casual trainers, Feldt got serious in pre-season and his toil was the bedrock for greater consistency in 2018.
“To be honest, I’m stoked,” he said. “It’s been a really good year for me personally. I had a tough start to the year the previous season and I really wanted to work on my consistency this year and finish the year well.
“I played all 24 games so I was really proud of the way I played. I put my best foot forward in the off-season and pre-season so I was happy to get the rewards.
“I actually trained properly. That’s the big thing, to be a good NRL player you need to knuckle down in the pre-season and it’s pretty good that I did the hard work and it really showed this year.”
A veteran of 98 NRL games, Feldt already has a premiership ring and says the next step in his journey is becoming a Test and Origin player.
“I wouldn’t be playing if I didn’t aspire to play rep football,” he said.
“It’s huge for ‘JT’ to give me a wrap. He will be an Immortal one day, so I’m stoked he would say that about me. Hopefully he can get on the coaching staff of Queensland one day and he slings me into the side.
“I want to play Origin, I’ve been in the frame a few times. I had the opportunity a few years ago and let it slip through my grasp so if it comes around again I will take it with both hands and run with it.”