Queensland coach Mal Meninga says the Maroons have plenty of talent if and when he decides to put his State of Origin succession plan into play.
The Queensland “spine” of Melbourne trio hooker Cameron Smith, halfback Cooper Cronk and fullback Billy Slater are all plus-30, while 33-year-old centre Justin Hodges has already announced he will retire from representative football after this year’s series.
Meninga says he’s in no rush to hurry them out the door, but says when he does there are players ready to put their hands up.
“Players like Michael Morgan, Anthony Milford – we’re pretty healthy in the halves, fullback and probably hooker department,” Meninga said.
“When you talk about rugby league that’s our spine so we’ve got great depth there.”
Melbourne centre Will Chambers may have leapt over Brisbane captain Hodges to play in the centres for the Kangaroos in the recent Test against New Zealand but he will have to bide his time at the Maroons.
Chambers is set to play on the right wing for the opening game against NSW in Sydney on May 27.
“Will’s definitely there and he’s on the horizon when Justin does retire,” Meninga said.
“That’s part of our planning.
“It is an ageing footy team so we’ve got to make some pretty smart decisions around a succession plan.
“The dilemma for me is when and if we need to start to turn that around and bring in the new players but it’s a good problem to have.”
Meninga said he was pleased to see Chambers reaching his potential, having known him since he was a kid.
He rated Chambers’ Origin debut in game three of the series last year as the best he had ever seen.
“Will deserves to be in the Australian side because of his form, he’s had an exceptional start to the year,” Meninga said.
Meninga also believed young outside backs Dane Gagai and Dale Copley would be pushing for Queensland selection before too long.