Wally Lewis tips Maroons stars to play on for years
THE Maroons' eight-year-Origin dynasty may be over, but Wally Lewis believes the senior members of the Queensland team will be in the representative arena for years to come.
Maroons stalwarts Justin Hodges, Johnathan Thurston, Billy Slater (pictured), Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk are in their 30s, as are late bloomer Corey Parker and Brent Tate, who faces possible retirement after suffering a serious leg injury in Origin II.
Lewis, who was at the Mooloolaba Surf Life Saving Club for "Lunch with a Legend" yesterday, slammed those who believed Queensland's first series loss in nine years was proof it was time for some of the Maroons' older players to hang up the boots.
"These players are part of a great team and great teams don't fold - they simply tell you when they don't want to play," Lewis said.
"I think you have only got to face the players to understand that they intend to book these jerseys for a couple of years to come.
"They are getting a bit older and some are on the other side of 30, but you only have to have a look at their club form to realise what special players they are." Lewis, who captained Queensland on 30 occasions, was just as scathing towards those who considered Wednesday night's third Origin to be a "dead rubber".
Lewis said New South Wales would be yearning for a clean sweep to go some way towards redeeming themselves after being dominated by Queensland - one of the nation's great sporting dynasties - for almost a decade.
"Anybody who says there is room for a dead rubber in Origin doesn't know what State of Origin is about," he said.
"There is a lot of pride and passion on the field and the feeling that will be displayed by both teams in the opening minutes will indicate that this is an important match.
"Suggestions that New South Wales will not be 100% committed only come from people who do not know what they are talking about.
"These blokes have been embarrassed for eight years in a row so they will be out to try and inflict as much pain as they can on Queensland."
Lewis admitted he did not know if Queensland's Origin dominance had come to an end.
He said losing the series might provide senior Maroons with the motivation to keep playing in the hope of exiting State of Origin as winners.
"It is important that when it (the Queensland dynasty) does finish that New South Wales have those bragging rights, because it will give Queensland a special introduction into that next series," he said.
"They (the Blues) will put full concentration in, knowing that they have to come back to be able to retain the title of State of Origin champions."