He stopped short of predicting a bloodbath.
But Queensland prop Jarrod Wallace forecasts an explosive start to next week’s State of Origin series opener after warning a sledging NSW that the Maroons were again ready to have the last laugh.
Wallace has all but dared the Blues to dismiss Queensland’s hopes without retired greats Cameron Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk after some choice words from south of the Tweed ahead of Wednesday’s Origin I at the MCG.
Blues prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard got the pre-game barbs going nicely when he infamously claimed he wanted to pull on the Blues jersey and “kill some people”.
And excitement created by new coach Brad Fittler’s fresh faces have already prompted the likes of ex-Blue Graeme Hughes to predict a NSW series whitewash.
Wallace believed the stage was set for a memorable opening on Wednesday night, saying the Maroons would again be out to see if the Blues were all talk.
Queensland – winners of 11 of the last 12 series – received a confidence boost with injury concerns Ben Hunt (thigh), Billy Slater (hamstring) and Josh McGuire (ankle) moving freely at Friday training.
“NSW always do this, they always come out in game one and say it will be a 3-0 whitewash,” Wallace said.
“There is always someone sledging us. But at the end of the day, Queensland always have the last laugh.
“There won’t be too much talking on the field (next week). It will get found out if that’s all it is so we will see how it goes.”
Under new skipper Greg Inglis, the Maroons officially begin life without Smith, Thurston and Cronk in Origin I.
Queensland are without a total of 151 Origin games’ worth of experience after selectors also overlooked veterans Matt Scott and Darius Boyd.
Asked if NSW would think Queensland were vulnerable, Wallace said: “Yeah. They did that last year when they thought we couldn’t win without JT (Thurston)… and look what happened.
“I hope they (NSW) are sitting back thinking it will be an easy win without Cam Smith and our older players.
“But I can tell you right now we are up for the challenge. The new boys coming in are ready to rip in and ready to go.
“There’s no panic. It’s a new era now, a new time and I’m stoked I get to be a part of it.”
NSW have 11 rookies while Queensland boast three.
“I won’t say it will be a bloodbath but there will be a lot of energy and big boys going hard at each other,” Wallace said.
“There will be a lot of aggression and emotion and new guys trying to make a real stamp and trying to get there for game two.
“They will want to prove themselves.”
Meanwhile, Melbourne’s Tim Glasby is Queensland’s 18th man.
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