Underfire Maroons promise to repay selectors' faith
CALLS for their Queensland axing have been echoing throughout the state almost from the season kick-off but out-of-form quartet Jacob Lillyman, Justin O'Neill, Aidan Guerra and Nate Myles are adamant they will let no one down when they don a maroon jersey on Wednesday night.
Plenty had called for the sacking of at least some of the quartet to allow for the inclusion of the likes of Billy Slater, Coen Hess and Jarrod Wallace.
But experience will be key for Kevin Walters' men against the Blues and these Queensland warriors are certain they can do the job.
Myles, who will be lining up in his 32nd Origin match, brings that in spades.
The former Titans captain said loyalty was a Queensland trait but believed it had to be earned by consistent performance.
"I definitely think there's two types of loyalty you can have, there's a silly loyalty and there's the loyalty that works," Myles said.
"Whether or not the loyalty that works turns into a silly loyalty, I don't know, that's where the selectors and the coaching staff work that out, not the players.
"When you're loyal to what doesn't work, that's an issue.
"Until it's not working, I know what's going to happen."
Guerra, O'Neill and Lillyman don't have Myles's experience, with a combined 25 Origin games between them.
But the incumbent trio believed they deserved to be retained and are determined to show selectors they have not made a mistake.
"(My form) has been good enough for the selectors to show faith," said Lillyman, who admitted the Warriors' patchy season and his distance from selectors had played on his mind.
"I am not an automatic selection like some guys, so I guess I have to be ticking those boxes to get selected. I am happy to be here."
While he knows that at 33 years of age he is close to the end of his career, Lillyman has been outstanding for Queensland in his past few games and like Guerra, will bring punch off the Maroons bench.
"I was actually pretty confident (of being selected) this year," said Guerra, who will make his 10th Origin appearance on Wednesday.
"There was a question mark on my form last year but football this year I'm in a positive place. Last year I was relieved to get selected and this year I was proud that I worked my way back into it."
O'Neill was possibly the man under most pressure with speculation he could be dropped to facilitate a backline reshuffle that would have allowed Walters to pick Slater at fullback and play Darius Boyd on the wing, with Dane Gagai moving into the centres.
After returning earlier than he would have ideally liked from a hamstring strain due to injuries in the Cowboys' ranks, O'Neill admitted he took a couple of weeks to get back to his best but said he was comfortable with his current form.
"I wasn't focused so much on being right to be picked for Origin, it was more getting my body right so I could play at the form I wanted to play at," he said.
"That (criticism) was probably said on how I came back from my injury. I felt pretty comfortable the last couple of games."
While they will face one of the best NSW teams in recent memory on Wednesday night, fear is never a motivation for Queensland.
Nor is fear of losing the maroon jersey, Lillyman said.
"You just want to go out there and do the job and do the jersey justice every time you pull it on," he said.
"That's the main motivation."