Who can replace GI for the Maroons? Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith
Who can replace GI for the Maroons? Photo: AAP Image/Julian Smith

Mal reveals his pick for Maroons skipper

THERE'S plenty of talk about who is the right man to lead Queensland into a new era after Greg Inglis made the tough call to retire this week.

While there have been some worthy contenders mentioned, a player who also stands out in my humble opinion to take over as Maroons captain is Matt Gillett.

After a period which has seen the loss of Inglis, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk, Gillett is now Queensland's most experienced player with 18 games to his name.

He has been in the Maroons system for a long time, is well-liked and highly respected.

He understands what Origin is all about and always rises to the occasion when it comes to big-time footy.

That is the thing about State of Origin. You have to understand the history of Origin to actually grasp it.

When you know what it means to all of Queensland and are ready to give everything in the pursuit of victory, that is what makes a great Origin player.

It is about how much they want to sacrifice for their mates and for their state. Matt Gillett is that kind of player.

Retired Maroons skipper Greg Inglis with Matt Gillett. Picture: Peter Wallis
Retired Maroons skipper Greg Inglis with Matt Gillett. Picture: Peter Wallis

It is crucial in Origin to pick the guys with the right character.

That was the thing with Greg and his generation when they were young was, they had true character in spades.

They all grew up watching rugby league and loving Origin footy. They didn't quite understand its origins, so we made sure the lessons learnt from the past were passed down to the current and it gave them a good grounding of what it takes to be a Queenslander.

Maroons coach Kevvie Walters has done a terrific transition job in recent years and those lessons are still there.

And to be honest all the players who put on that Maroon jersey are all leaders anyway. That's our expectation of them to lead by example, every effort matters, every decision is crucial and they never give up.

Captain material Queenslanders like Ben Hunt, Michael Morgan, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans and Gillett have been around a while now and understands what's needed.

Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt. Picture: Adam Head
Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt. Picture: Adam Head

There is still enough experience around the group with players like Josh McGuire, Josh Papalii, Dylan Napa in the forwards and Will Chambers, Corey Oates and Dane Gagai out wide.

There's also plenty of promising young talents coming through the ranks like Kalyn Ponga, Joe Ofahengaue, David Fifita, AJ Brimson, Jai Arrow and Christian Welch.

When rebuilding, you have to start somewhere and that is true for anything in life.

There is no immediate ready-made replacement for Greg and there never will be, so you must take a leap of faith in someone as we did with him when he was still a teenager.

It all comes down to selectors, teammates and all of Queensland having faith in the bloke in the Maroon jersey to do the job.

It is an honour to be captain of our state but it's more important to know that the Queensland team that runs on to the field in this series will be prepared and are all leaders we can be proud of.