A veteran prop who can’t make his NRL club’s starting team has emerged as a depleted Queensland’s potential saviour.
In what looms as a classic State of Origin comeback, Manly bench forward Nate Myles – 32 next month – has been tipped to fill the void left by Test prop Matt Scott (knee) in Wednesday’s opener in Brisbane.
Myles has only started for the Sea Eagles twice this season but was one of the first picked by a Maroons outfit with more than 100 Origin games’ worth of experience missing.
Besides Scott, the Maroons are without Johnathan Thurston (shoulder), Billy Slater (overlooked), Greg Inglis (knee) and Corey Parker (retired).
Myles will partner debutant Dylan Napa in the front row, moving to Origin game No.32 and sixth overall on the all-time list alongside Mal Meninga.
“He becomes very important particularly at the start of the game,” Queensland coach Kevin Walters said of Myles.
“And he’s got Dylan with him, who is making his debut.
“It’s great for Dylan to know someone is beside you like Nate who has played 31 Origins during a very successful era.
“We still believe he (Myles) still has got a great Origin experience coming from within him.”
Myles will move one game short of Origin’s most capped prop, Petero Civoniceva, despite averaging 32 minutes and 75 running metres a game for Manly this year.
Maroons playmaker Cooper Cronk hoped Myles featured in another backs against the wall response from Queensland.
“There is still a lot talent and self belief in this team,” Cronk said before his 20th Origin.
“And just go back through history. Queensland haven’t had the best list of players on paper but they have had the effort and that is what Origin is about.”
Queensland will also be out to celebrate skipper Cameron Smith’s record 40th Origin and at the other end of the scale, Napa and five-eighth Anthony Milford’s debuts.
“It’s a big occasion for Cameron but we also have two boys on debut and Cooper is playing his 20th game,” Walters said.
“There are some special milestones around the team but I think what is most important is that each player gets in and has a crack on the night.”