Forget partying like it’s 1999. Scott Sattler believes Queensland selectors should be picking this year’s Maroons team like it’s 2001.
Like everything else in a post-Covid world, State or Origin is in for the biggest shake-up in its 40-year history this year with the entire series to be played in November after the completion of the delayed NRL season.
Similarly, the Maroons look set for one of their biggest overhauls in years as Kevin Walters and his Maroons try to stop the Blues from taking a third successive Origin series.
With the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans – the clubs that traditionally provide the bulk of players to the Queensland squad – enduring poor seasons and injuries tearing NRL rosters apart, Queensland selectors may have to get creative in their approach to keep the Blues at bay.
While the situation is not quite as dire as in 2001, when Queensland had to pick up the pieces of a disastrous 2000 series whitewash, Sattler says the lessons learned from that “refresh and reset” series 19 years ago will be a template for this year’s campaign.
“I think we have to take some lessons from the 2001 series, when Queensland gave Origin debuts to something like 10 or 11 players, the majority of whom went on to form the nucleus of the Queensland team for the next few years,” Sattler said.
“This year is a really good year to do that again, with some quality guys coming through the system like Jaydn Su’A, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Harry Grant and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow. These are all guys who – like those 2001 blokes – could play for Queensland for years to come.
“With the way the footy world is at the moment, with the three Queensland teams struggling, we can’t just be looking around and picking the team on the basis of Origin experience.
“Yes, it is still an important asset, but with a good spread of these young talented guys, we could energise the team with enthusiasm and good form.”
Walters and the selectors face one of their biggest challenges this year in getting the Maroons mix right.
Not only are the three Queensland NRL clubs out of form, but for the first time match fitness is going to be an issue to be considered, given some players may run out for Origin I having not played for a month.
“We are going to have to look beyond Brisbane and North Queensland for the bulk of this year’s Queensland team, because neither of those clubs will be playing finals,” Sattler said.
“So any player that comes out of the Broncos or Cowboys to play Origin won’t have played any football for a month by the time the Origin series gets underway.
“That is going to be a really tough ask for any player to be able to come off such a long break and then be up to speed for Origin straight away.
“I always think that Queensland is travelling well when the Melbourne Storm are travelling well, and we are going to be relying on the Storm more than ever this year.
“The selection process for Kevvie is going to be really interesting. When he and the selectors are looking at their team, how much will not playing in the finals count against players?
“Is it going to hurt the chances of a player who is regularly picked because they don’t want to take the chance on a lack of match fitness because they haven’t played in a month? It is going to be really interesting to see what happens.
“This is unchartered waters for both teams, and for both selection panels. How they handle it and which way they go is going to be very intriguing.”