Happy campers prepare for State of Origin war
Look out, Blues. A new age of Queensland Maroons rugby league has well and truly arrived.
The revamped and revitalised Maroons - featuring newly named captain Daly Cherry-Evans and debutants Moses Mbye, David Fifita and Joe Ofahengaue - stepped on to Brisbane's Davies Park turf for their first full training run yesterday morning, six days out from their series-opening showdown with NSW at Suncorp Stadium.
Queensland legends Billy Slater, Petero Civoniceva, Alfie Langer and Justin Hodges joined coach Kevin Walters to man the sidelines as the young Maroons were put through their paces for nearly two hours in front of keen fans already caught up in the State of Origin hype.
Superstar Melbourne Storm duo Cameron Munster and Will Chambers were among the most vocal voices of the playing group as they worked on running patterns, attacking combinations and defensive formations in the most intense on-field action of the Maroons' camp so far.
Cherry-Evans said leaders and new faces alike were lapping up the important opportunities to develop their connections as the countdown to game one intensified.
"Camp's been really fun - it's hard not to enjoy a representative camp, let alone a Queensland camp," he said.
"It's been extremely fun the last couple of days. We've really gotten around each other, hanging out and getting to know each other, and I think that showed today with our first training session.
"We're really excited to be here. We know we've got a lot of hard work to get through."
The skipper doubled down on his insistence he'd be "100 per cent" for game one despite a late April ankle injury that required tightrope surgery.
"So far my ankle's feeling really good - I've got no doubts that next Wednesday night I'm going to be taking my place out there," he said.
Second-rower Felise Kaufusi said the excitement had filtered through Camp Maroon and would continue to build through the entire playing group with another training run today.
"It's our first session," he said.
"We're still getting our combinations together, but we'll build on that with the next couple of sessions to come and we'll be right come Wednesday."