An emotional Queensland coach Kevin Walters says he "wouldn't want anyone else in charge" than Greg Inglis as the Maroons look to begin a new era in Wednesday's State of Origin opener in Melbourne.
Walters at one stage looked like he was fighting back tears as he passionately backed new skipper Inglis to step up in the absence of retired greats, ex- captain Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston.
Leading from the front: Greg Inglis.Photo: AAP
And that was before veteran fullback Billy Slater was added to that list after making a shock withdrawal on Monday due to a hamstring injury.
The Maroons were already without 151 Origin games' worth of experience after the Big Three's representative retirement and selectors overlooked veterans Matt Scott and Darius Boyd for game one.
After Slater's stunning withdrawal, Inglis, 31, is now the sole remaining survivor of Queensland's 2006 team that began their dominant run of 11 series wins in the last 12 years.
"I wouldn't want anyone else in charge of this team than Greg right now for the situation we have found ourselves in," Walters said.
"Greg does a lot with his actions and we will see that on Wednesday night."
Walters reckoned naming Inglis - a veteran of 30 Origins - as captain was a no- brainer.
"From when he came into the side as an 18 or 19-year-old, he has grown and matured so much," he said.
'I see the respect he has from the playing group.
"He will lead from the front and if he does that, I will be very comfortable sitting in the (coach's) box."
Inglis was humbled to be making his debut as Maroons captain at Melbourne - where he began his glittering career in 2005 with NRL club the Storm as a teenager.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for myself. I started my career down here, I moved down here when I was 16," Inglis said.
"Now to be back here playing on the MCG and to lead the Queensland Maroons out as captain, it is ironic.
"It's a big occasion for myself but I will put the team first."
After missing the 2017 series with a knee injury, Inglis had been named to burst back onto the Origin scene in the centres.
However, the veteran may slot into fullback for the injured Slater.
Walters is yet to confirm his backline after bringing Brisbane's Anthony Milford and Newcastle's Kalyn Ponga into Melbourne as potential replacements.
Either way, Inglis ominously warned he planned to make his presence felt at the MCG.
"I know people are saying they are big shoes to fill (as captain) and they are - Cam Smith will go down as one of the great leaders of all time in Australian sport," Inglis said.
"But I am going to be myself and be the leader I am. That is why Kevvie chose me - I will lead from the front."
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