Walters tips Munster to be Maroons' danger man
He may only have one State of Origin game under his belt but Cameron Munster shapes as Queensland's key influencer in Wednesday night's series opener at the MCG, according to his coach Kevin Walters.
Walters said the Melbourne five-eighth had set a high benchmark after his man-of-the-match performance in game three last year, but that he was capable of repeating that effort in 2018.
"Cameron sets very high standards around his training and preparation," Walters said.
"He's going to be a very important player for us on Wednesday night. If he can get to the level he did from game three last year, there will be a lot of happy Queenslanders regardless of the result."
Walters said he was "very confident" Storm fullback Billy Slater would play despite a hamstring complaint, forming an experienced back three with Dane Gagai and Valentine Holmes.
And the coach thinks his three Origin rookies – Andrew McCullough, Felise Kaufusi and Jai Arrow – can rise to the challenge.
"I think if you look back last year, some of our guys like Dylan Napa, it was his first game and he was better in game two certainly. Jarrod Wallace was the same. And Cam Munster was good from the get-go. So it just depends on the individual.
"But we're confident in the side that we've picked that they've got enough Origin experience to get them through the game OK.
"Their club form is really important. Felise Kaufusi has played for the Kangaroos already and winning grand finals, which is important. And Jai Arrow isn't a rookie – but everyone is aware what he's been doing for the Titans this year in the opening 12 rounds.
"But with Origin, we won't know until they get stuck in on Wednesday night."
New Maroons captain Greg Inglis said it was an honour to lead his state in Melbourne, after starting his Telstra Premiership career at the Storm.
"It's a tremendous opportunity," Inglis said.
"I started my career down here and moved down when I was 16. The Storm and Craig [Bellamy] gave me the opportunity to make my debut at the Melbourne Storm. To be back here playing at the MCG, and leading the Maroons out as a captain, is a big occasion for myself."
And Walters gave the new Maroons skipper a glowing endorsement leading into his first series in charge.
"I know how Greg is going to play, and he will lead from the front," he said.
"And if he can do that, I'll be really comfortable sitting up in the box, because I wouldn't want any other person in charge of this team rather than Greg right now."
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here