Banana-drama! Walters wants Flegler in Maroons squad
Give the banana farmer from North Queensland another crack in State of Origin.
That was the message from Brisbane coach Kevin Walters who insists Broncos prop Thomas Flegler is ready to be given his second Queensland jumper after the retirement of Maroons legend Josh Papalii.
Papalii stepped down from State of Origin football on Thursday after playing 23 games for the Maroons in the front-row, and 23-year-old Flegler is one of a suite of middle forwards in the mix to come into the side.
The Broncos firebrand hails from a respected banana farming family in Tully, where he has often worked in off-seasons, and has Origin football written all over him.
He's physically tough, skilled and plays with an old-fashioned warhorse mentality that oozes what the Maroons are all about.
Flegler played one game for Queensland in 2021 but Walters said he was ready for more.
"I'd love for Fleg' to get selected. It is great for his development. I think he has earned the right," Walters said.
"He is more consistent this year. He is a rough and aggressive style of person and I think he would look good in a Queensland jersey doing it to the other colour that they wear in State of Origin."
Walters, who played for and coached Queensland with distinction himself, is well qualified to speak about what makes an ideal Maroon
Flegler was in Maroons camp for all three games last year but didn't play. The Queensland team will be named on Monday for Game One in Adelaide by coach Billy Slater and his fellow selectors.
Flegler was on the losing side in the 15-4 defeat by Penrith on Thursday night but was one of the Broncos best as he took it to the tough Panthers pack.
"I think Tom has done enough tonight, and in his performances, to be selected but you can only fit 17 in that Queensland side," Walters said.
"That will be a job for Billy and his selectors to pick. Over the Origin period there are three games as well so not all hinges on the first game."
Walters said the Maroons were blessed with depth in middle forwards.
Gold Coast captain Tino Fa'asuamaleaui, Brisbane lock Pat Carrigan and Sydney Roosters prop Lindsay Collins are set to be selected.
Yet Flegler and Christian Welch (Melbourne) Corey Horsburgh (Canberra), J'maine Hopgood (Parramatta) Reuben Cotter (North Queensland), Tom Gilbert (Dolphins) and Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast) are among those vying for positions on the bench at the very least.