Wallace vows to stand up to NSW pack

Laine Clark
Queensland's Jarrod Wallace can't wait to test himself against NSW's huge pack in Origin I

Ever since Shane Webcke's "Captain America" moment almost 20 years ago, Jarrod Wallace has wanted to play front row for Queensland.

Now Wallace is set to produce his own heroics after vowing to stand up to NSW's monster pack in next week's State of Origin series opener in Melbourne.

In just his third Origin, Wallace, 26, will spearhead a Maroons pack that must overcome injury and form concerns to blunt the Blues juggernaut led by David Klemmer and Reagan Campbell-Gillard on Wednesday night.

Queensland prop Wallace hoped to channel idol Webcke after the 21-Origin wrecking ball inspired his Maroons dream as a kid.

"I can't remember the exact game but Webcke caught the kick in the in-goal and there were these NSW guys coming flying at him and they were bouncing everywhere," Wallace said.

"It was like Captain America stuff. I was sitting there thinking I want to do that one day.

"I was seven or eight years old. I knew then I want that (Maroons front row) jersey and to be in that position."

Webcke will again be on Wallace's mind when he runs out onto the MCG as a maligned Queensland pack look to silence their critics.

The Maroons raised eyebrows by picking Josh McGuire despite the lock being sidelined for the last five weeks with an ankle injury.

They also opted for out of sorts North Queensland back-rowers Coen Hess and Gavin Cooper.

And Josh Papalii is the Maroons' most experienced forward in Origin I, one month after being relegated to reserve grade by NRL club Canberra.

"Webcke was my favourite, big Petero (Civinoceva) was outstanding and to take it (starting jersey) off (retired great Nate) Myles was a huge honour and a huge achievement for me (last year)," Wallace said.

"I want to make sure every time I pull the jersey on, if they were to come up to me off the field they would shake my hand and say they were proud."

Asked if he and front row partner Dylan Napa could stand up to NSW, Wallace said: "Definitely.

"We had a big job last year against Klemmer and (Aaron) Woods and they were the NRL's two best props at that stage.

"They had played for NSW for eight years so nothing changes for us just because there are two new guys there."

McGuire, halfback Ben Hunt (thigh) and fullback Billy Slater (hamstring) trained strongly on Friday and are expected to be officially declared fit after Queensland's Sunday session.

The Maroons squad leave their Gold Coast camp and fly into Melbourne on Monday.