Thursday 22 March 2018 / 05:39 AM


Former Queensland Origin hard-man Kevin Campion has endorsed the retention of one veteran forward while declaring the end of the road for another ahead of the 2017 series opener.

Campion, who played four games for the Maroons during the 2001-02 series, says selectors should retain Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman, but he can’t find a place for out-of-form stalwart Nate Myles.

“I think it’s time for a change of the guard,” Campion told Commentary Box Sports.

“Jake is still capable, I just don’t think Nate is – he’s slowed up a bit.

“I don’t think Nate’s going to make it, I think Jake will. (Lillyman is) good coming off the bench, he proved that last year and I know the boys love him, he’s a great player.”

Lillyman and Myles both debuted in the 2006 series, but while the latter has missed just two Origins since to rack up 31 appearances in the code’s toughest arena, the man known as ‘Bull’ has predominantly been regarded as a fill-in option.

That has changed in recent seasons, however, with Lillyman featuring in seven of the last eight matches after notching just six Origin appearances prior to 2014.

The 33-year-old’s form for the up-and-down Warriors has remained solid in 2017, averaging 138.5 metres and 24 tackles per game.

Myles, 31, has endured a mystifying form slump since joining Manly last year that will test the Queensland brains trust’s famed loyalty to its limit. He has mustered just 86 metres and 19 tackles per game this year, numbers that arguably don’t paint the full picture of how ordinary he has been for the Sea Eagles.

That hasn’t deterred Craig Bellamy, though, with Melbourne Storm set to snap up Myles for the rest of 2017.

Although Matt Scott’s season-ending injury and Corey Parker’s retirement has eroded the Maroons’ middle-forward depth, Sydney Roosters firebrand Dylan Napa seems assured of a debut, while the form of fellow uncapped tyros Jarrod Wallace, Korbin Sims and Coen Hess warrants a maiden call-up.

Guaranteed selections Sam Thaiday and Josh McGuire all well-versed in the rigours of the front-row, and Cowboys veteran Scott Bolton is also in the mix.

“Don’t be surprised if both of (Lillyman and Myles) aren’t in the side, there’s some good up and comers coming into that Queensland side and they deserve to be on that stage,” says Campion, who played in grand finals for St George, Brisbane and the Warriors during a nomadic 241-game career.

The absence of Scott and Greg Inglis, plus the injury cloud hanging over Johnathan Thurston, hasn’t deterred Campion from declaring Queensland certainties to carry off the shield for the third straight year – and the 11th time in 12 campaigns.

“Queensland have got that edge on them still – I think it’s a mental edge more than anything,” the Sarina product says.

“New South Wales know that they have to play at their very best to beat this Queensland side, no matter who comes into it.

“It’s going to be close and it’s not going to go all Queensland’s way but we’ll get the series again, and unfortunately for New South Wales I think they’ll have another 12 months of going home back to the drawing board.”

Keep an eye out for Edition No.4 of WILL EVANS’ Sounding the Siren series featuring Kevin Campion, coming soon!

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About the author

Will Evans

CBS’s Editor-in-Chief and lead rugby league, union and cricket writer, Will is a Christchurch-based freelancer, also writing for Big League and Rugby League Review magazines, and The New Daily website. Will has written four rugby league books.

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