Queensland couldn’t have picked a better captain. (Liam Kidston)
Queensland couldn’t have picked a better captain. (Liam Kidston)

GI Maroons’ last link to epic dynasty

GREG Inglis says he will not fail the record-breaking Maroons as the newly-appointed captain prepares to lead Queensland through one of their most turbulent periods in Origin history.

It is significant that Inglis will lead Queensland onto the MCG next Wednesday night because the giant centre is now the last remaining link with the Maroons team that created a record Origin dynasty.

Matt Scott's axing and Cameron Smith's representative retirement has left Inglis as the sole survivor from the 2006 Queensland side which has propelled the Maroons to 11 series wins in 12 years.

The baby-faced Inglis was 19 years old when he was handed his maiden Maroons jumper for the 2006 series opener, scoring two tries in a narrow 17-16 loss to NSW at Sydney's ANZ Stadium.

Now Inglis is a 31-year-old leader who will equal Wally Lewis with his 31st Origin game in the MCG opener, vowing to uphold the cultural standards of captaincy predecessors Smith and Darren Lockyer.

Inglis lines up with Queensland’s 2006 Origin rookies. (David Kapernick)
Inglis lines up with Queensland’s 2006 Origin rookies. (David Kapernick)

There is no other member of Queensland's 2018 playing squad that was part of the Maroons' epic series win 12 years ago. Even coach Mal Meninga, who won nine of 10 series, has walked away.

That leaves Inglis as the last-man standing of a Queensland dynasty he insists must not topple on his watch.

"I just want the Queensland team to be successful," said Inglis, State of Origin's leading tryscorer with 18 from 30 games.

"I played for Queensland at 19 and now I'm captain of this great side at 31 - it's overwhelming.

GI scored on debut in game one.
GI scored on debut in game one.

"I have learnt from the best.

"At Melbourne (his former club), there were people like Craig Bellamy (coach), Cameron Smith and Billy Slater and in Queensland, I've had 'Kevvie' (coach Kevin Walters) and before him 'Locky' (Lockyer), Petero (Civoniceva) and Steve Price.

"I have been around a lot of great people and great players and I have taken notes from a lot of them.

"We have great people in this team that know what this Maroons team is about and what we stand for and our values.

NSW have seen lots of pain with Inglis involved.
NSW have seen lots of pain with Inglis involved.

"I'm not a big talker, but when I do talk I get my point across and it's pretty direct.

"I will lead by my actions and that's what I bring. That's why Kevvie wanted me as captain."

Inglis' coronation as Queensland's 13th Origin captain caps an emotional 12 months for the NRL superstar. Exactly this time last year, Inglis checked into a rehab facility to overcome a battle with depression.

The NSW-born Inglis also explained why he turned his back on the Blues to pledge his Origin allegiance to Queensland.

"If I didn't go through what I've been through, I wouldn't be here today," he said.

We will never see their like again. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
We will never see their like again. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

"I don't see it (rehab) as a lowlight. I wouldn't have learnt who I was, who I really was. If I didn't realise it earlier, I don't know where I would be.

"I came to Queensland for a reason.

"I had a piece of paper in front of me all those years ago. I was playing a senior game for Norths Devils and it (the NRL registration paper) said tick a box - Queensland or NSW.

"I picked Queensland. People forget I came in with six debutants in 2006 on the back of a three-year losing streak.

"I felt a sense of belonging and a sense of family and it hasn't changed."

 

Queensland couldn’t have picked a better captain. (Liam Kidston)
Queensland couldn’t have picked a better captain. (Liam Kidston)

 

Walters said Inglis' memories of the culture-defining 2006 series win would drive his leadership.

"I remember Greg coming into the side in 2006, all he wanted to do was play Origin," he said. "As you get older, you develop and mature.

"Right now, in his life this is a great challenge for him and one he is ready for.

"He has been through some rocky roads but like the true champion he is, he has come out the other side. He is ready to lead this young Queensland team into battle."