They may have lost the battle for Israel Folau’s signature but the NRL are doing their darndest to ensure at least one member of his family remains in rugby league.
Sport-hopping Folau’s younger brother John has been included in the inaugural Junior Emerging Queensland Origin squad camp to be run by master coach Wayne Bennett and Maroons mentor Mal Meninga in Brisbane in January.
The 26-strong squad – which will be groomed for Queensland’s 2013 Under-20s Origin team – also includes ex-Maroons forward Antonio Kaufusi’s brother Patrick and North Queensland’s Tariq and Ashton Sims’ sibling Korbin.
There were also plenty of big names in Queensland’s senior Emerging Origin squad unveiled on Friday which will attend the same training camp next month.
Keen to capitalise on Kiwi-born Josh Papalii switching allegiance to Australia, Meninga and Bennett have included the damaging Canberra backrower in a 14-strong senior squad headlined by Dally M player of the year Ben Barba.
Besides Papalii, new faces in the senior squad are Edrick Lee (Canberra), Michael Morgan (Cowboys), Ben Ridge (Gold Coast) and Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters) although Gold Coast hooker Matt Srama was a notable absentee.
“In the past few seasons alone the likes of Matt Gillett, Ben Teo, Dave Taylor, Dane Nielsen and Jharal Yow Yeh have made the step from the QAS program into the Origin team,” QRL CEO Robert Moore said.
“There is no doubt that their transition into one of sport’s toughest and most competitive arenas has been helped by their involvement in the QAS Emerging Origin program.”
Moore said both squads would utilise the Queensland Academy of Sport’s “state-of-the-art” facilities at their camps.
The senior Emerging Origin squad will train at the QAS from January 25-27 while the juniors will be from January 17-20.
Senior Queensland Emerging Origin squad: Ben Barba (Bulldogs), Justin O’Neill (Storm), Dale Copley (Broncos), Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly), Andrew McCullough (Broncos), Martin Kennedy (Sydney Roosters), Josh McGuire (Broncos), William Zillman (Titans), Chris McQueen (South Sydney), Josh Papalli (Raiders), Edrick Lee (Raiders), Michael Morgan (Cowboys), Ben Ridge (Titans) and Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters).
Junior Queensland Emerging Origin squad: Caleb Timu (Broncos), Corey Oates (Broncos), Chris Grevsmuhl (Cowboys), Hymel Hunt (Titans), Kurt Mann (Melbourne), Ian Riccardi (Penrith), Anthony Milford (Raiders), Travis Peeters (Broncos), Francis Molo (Broncos), Zac Santo (Cowboys), Kierran Moseley (Penrith), Patrick Mago (Raiders), Soape Palau (Broncos), Patrick Kaufusi (Cowboys), Moses Mbye (Bulldogs), Cameron Cullen (Broncos), Brenko Lee (Raiders), Joseph Forrester (Broncos), John Folau (Eels), Billy Brittain (Storm), Ben Hampton (Storm), Luke Keary (South Sydney), Dylan Napa (Sydney Roosters), Korbin Sims (Knights), Lachlan Maranta (Broncos), Aaron Whitchurch (Broncos).