Thomas Flegler is on the cusp of an Origin debut. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty
Thomas Flegler is on the cusp of an Origin debut. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty

Shane Webcke 2.0 built for State of Origin

The Maroons have found their new Shane Webcke after Queensland coach Kevin Walters declared he was ready to unleash Broncos firebrand Tom Flegler on the Blues.

Flegler is in line to make his State of Origin debut this year as Queensland searches for an injection of talent to snap a two-year losing streak.

Walters gathered 33 of Queensland's best players in Brisbane for a two-day camp, breaking a two-decade Origin tradition.

For the first time since 2001, Walters combined Queensland's annual Emerging Origin players with current Maroons stars.

Among the group was Flegler, the 20-year-old Broncos prop who played 23 NRL games in his debut season last year.

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Thomas Flegler is on the cusp of an Origin debut. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty
Thomas Flegler is on the cusp of an Origin debut. Picture: Jono Searle/Getty

At 105kg, Flegler is built like legendary Queensland prop Webcke, the Maroons hardman who started 21 Origin games in the front row.

A naturally aggressive player, Flegler said he grew up idolising the likes of Webcke, Corey Parker and Matt Scott and was ready for an Origin baptism against NSW in 2020.

"He (Webcke) was definitely one of the blokes I looked up to," he said.

"I always looked up to Corey Parker, he was my idol growing up. Another bloke was Matt Scott, he played with a lot of aggression and was smart too.

"You see the passion the Queenslanders show. Growing up as a kid all you ever wanted to do was play footy for Queensland.

"I will be ready to go. I can bring plenty of enthusiasm and impact off the bench.

"I suppose (my aggression would be helpful). Origin gets pretty heated at times. I think that would definitely help."

 

Walters likes Flegler’s aggressive style. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled
Walters likes Flegler’s aggressive style. Picture: AAP/Dan Peled

 

The front row is a position Queensland has struggled in over recent years following the retirements of Matt Scott and Nate Myles.

Walters used four different starting props last year with Jai Arrow, Josh Papalii, Joe Ofahengaue and Dylan Napa getting a crack throughout the three-game series.

Flegler is being earmarked for a spot on Queensland's bench and Walters said the Tully product was built for Origin.

"I love his character, he's got a beautiful character for State of Origin," he said.

"He's suited to State of Origin football. He's a very aggressive type of player.

"Last year was really good for him at the Broncos to get a taste of the NRL. This year is about building on that.

"He might pick up one or two things from being around guys like Josh Papalii and Jai Arrow, guys who are currently in the front row for Queensland.

"That's going to help everyone be a better player. That's what this camp is about."

The Broncos are blessed with a strong crop of props this year with Flegler to play alongside Ofahengaue and NSW products Matt Lodge and Payne Haas.

 

Shane Webcke is a Queensland legend. Picture: Phil Hillyard
Shane Webcke is a Queensland legend. Picture: Phil Hillyard

 

Haas, 20, made his Origin debut last year and Flegler said he would love to go toe-to-toe with his Broncos teammate.

"I play with him every week so to line up against him, there would definitely be a lot of competition there," Flegler said.

"I'd love to push for a starting spot at the Broncos but there is a lot of competition. A starting spot would definitely be my go.

"Making the 17 each week is the first thing then we'll see what happens from there.

"Lodgey and Payne are two of our leading front rowers. They played excellent footy last year.

"If I don't get a starting spot I'm still going to go out there each week and give it my all."

Walters will appear in Adelaide this week to launch the 2020 Origin series, which begins at the Adelaide Oval on June 3.



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