The Maroons Origin dynasty may be over, but for injured Rabbitoh and Maroon Chris McQueen, the long road back to the top of the interstate Series has already begun.
Queensland avoided a third straight loss at the hands of New South Wales in Brisbane last night in fine fashion, accounting for the Blues by 32-8 – a victory that McQueen says was the first step in rebuilding.
“That was definitely our first step,” said McQueen, who missed the match through injury.
“We want to start re-building for the next Series, and that obviously starts with us as individuals between now and next year.
“There’s a long time between now and then to get ourselves right and look to get back to where we know we can be.”
Both Queensland and New South Wales endured a torrid 2014 Origin campaign marred by injuries and uncertainty surrounding the fitness of key players. But it was the Maroons who felt the brunt of the uncertainty, with figures such as Greg Inglis, Sam Thaiday, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk – among others – all falling victim to uncertainty.
With a near full complement of players in Game III however – including the crucial return of halfback Cooper Cronk – Queensland turned on a solid performance to run out convincing winners.
“It was an outstanding game,” said McQueen.
“It was just disappointing that we didn’t play the way we did last night during the first two games – no doubt it would have made a difference, but that’s something we’ve got to look at as a team.”
McQueen sang the praises of his fellow Rabbitohs and Maroons teammates for their contribution to the Maroons in Game III and throughout the Origin period.
“Greggy (Inglis) is just a freak,” said McQueen.
“I say that all the time about him. He just shows up every game and makes a huge impact on the match and he did that again last night with his running. I though Ben (Te’o) also had a great game – his footwork, especially for a big man, was and is outstanding.”
Sidelined thanks to an ankle injury sustained against the Cowboys in round 16, McQueen will likely not return for the Rabbitohs umtil some-time in August, a prospect that had McQueen itching during last night’s decider.
“I definitely wanted to play,” said McQueen.
“It’s hard to sit on the sidelines, for sure, especially when it’s such a big game. But I’m going through a process now trying to get myself back on the field for Souths – that’s my first goal now, and with hard work, the rest will take care of itself.”