Four years ago, Will Chambers and Justin O’Neill were premiership teammates. Tonight they head to Townsville’s 1300SMILES Stadium as opponents and Origin quality centres.
Since September 30, 2012 when Melbourne held the Premiership trophy aloft on the final day of the season a lot has changed. Both players have since gone on to play 100 first-grade games and represent their state, Queensland. An incredibly consistent 2014 season and start to the following year saw Chambers earn his Test debut for Australia.
When Chambers went down with injury earlier this year it was former teammate O’Neill who was chosen to take his place at Origin level.
Coming off the back of a premiership winning season with North Queensland in 2015, the Cowboys centre performed well for the Maroons on their way to a 10th series win in 11 years. A year earlier Chambers had done just the same, scoring two tries as the Maroons regained the title they had lost a year earlier.
On Saturday night, despite being on opposite edges of the field, the two former teammates will have a big say in deciding the outcome of the highly anticipated top four clash.
After being sidelined for three months with a foot injury before making his return against Newcastle in Round 19, the 28-year-old Chambers is now working his way back to the form that saw him earn Queensland and Australian honours.
O’Neill took his opportunity in Chambers’ absence and will be hoping to stay in the frame for Kevin Walters’ state squad when next year’s Origin series rolls around.
“I want to be back for Queensland again, 100 per cent,” O’Neill said during the week.
“It was a great experience to finally get that taste of Origin and the entire squad are all good blokes to be around.
Fans in Townsville are in for a treat on Saturday night as two of the competition’s most dangerous outside backs try to steer their respective sides to victory.
And who knows…next year they may just be teammates again as they once were, but this time in a Maroon jersey.