Former Maroons stalwart Shaun Berrigan has called for Josh Papalii to start for Queensland in Origin III, insisting they’re missing a trick by allowing him to cool his heels on the bench.
Berrigan says the aggression of his Raiders teammate is made for the brutal opening minutes of Origin, as Queensland search for an eighth straight series win at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday.
The 34-year-old has played 15 Origins and watched in awe as Papalii tore North Queensland apart in Canberra’s 26-18 win on Sunday. Papalii played 11 minutes off the bench on debut in Queensland’s 26-6 game-two win, coming on late when the result was virtually sealed. But Berrigan is convinced the 21-year-old deserves more responsibility in one of the most anticipated interstate games in memory.
Queensland are expected to announce an unchanged 17-man squad on Tuesday.
”I can’t believe Papa’s not starting. He’s one of the best back-rowers in the competition at the moment,” Berrigan said.
”I think Papa really deserves to start there, so it will be interesting to see what side they name.”
Papalii was outstanding against the Cowboys, scoring a brilliant solo try and racking up 158 metres and 38 tackles.
Berrigan said Papalii wouldn’t be overwhelmed by starting on the game’s biggest stage, and he has developed into an 80-minute player for Canberra this year.
”I can see what Mal [Meninga] was doing in his first Origin game. He’s still a baby in rugby league terms and wanted to give him a taste,” Berrigan said. ”But he’s got a good head on his shoulders and is very mature for his age. He was devastating the few minutes he played last Origin. I think he’s ready, but it’s up to Mal, isn’t it.”
Papalii, a right edge back-rower, is likely to remain on the bench given Sam Thaiday’s huge performance in that role for Queensland in Origin II. Raiders coach David Furner also said Papalii should be given more game time.
But Berrigan feels Papalii would be capable of starting on the left and forge a dangerous edge partnership with centre Greg Inglis. ”He’s got a maturity for his age not many guys have, I think that’s the big thing,” Berrigan said. ”He can step off both feet, I don’t think it would be a problem at all if Papa was on the left.”
The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.