Just two years ago, the Queensland team was on the path of making it twelve titles in thirteen years. Now, the Maroons are trying to avoid a third straight defeat in the biggest sporting event in Australia.
Between 2006 and 2013, the Queensland Maroon enjoyed unparalleled and unprecedented success in the State of Origin series. It won all eight series between those periods. New South Wales Blues ended that run in 2014, only for the Maroons to bounce back to record three more victories between 2015 and 2017. It would have been safe to assume that the Maroons would try to replicate or even break that record but that 2017 triumph has been the last for the team.
The 2019 State of Origin was even more worrying as the Maroons never looked like they would win the series at any point. The most glaring reason for this is the loss of highly experienced players in the team. Vital and influential players that made up the core of that record-setting team retired before the 2019 campaign.
Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Nate Myles, Darius Boyd, Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, and Sam Thaiday all retired from the game and they had 253 State of Origin series game between them. That is a lot of experience that the team lost in a very short period. It would take some time to fill those gaps.
Add the fact that Will Chambers has joined the Japanese rugby and Matt Gillett has also announced his retirement before the 2020 Origin and you have a truly worrying problem for Coach Kevin Walters.
This is why the introduction of new faces to the team is very important and timely. When Coach Walters announced his squad for the two-day training slated for February 2020, 10 players in that team have not made their Origin debut. One player that many fans will definitely be excited about is Valentine Homes.
The return of the outside back to the Queensland team presents a much-needed selection headache and experience into the team. Valentine Homes is a star and the Queensland Maroon will definitely like to have one more star on their hands heading into the series.
Three fresh faces who will definitely add something to the team are Reed Mahoney, Parramatta hooker; Corey Horsburgh, Raiders firebrand; and Ronaldo Mulitalo, who plays as a winger for Sharks. These are just three of the ten fresh faces who will be looking to push for a spot in that 17-man team that heads to the biggest rivalry in rugby league.
For Queensland Maroons to regain the title it has won 21 times, Coach Walter will need his experienced players to regain their best form (and stay injury-free) and the fresh faces to help make up for the glaring losses within the team.