Time is running out for Queensland to inject new blood into their ageing forward pack, Wayne Bennett has warned.
The Brisbane master coach says the Maroons are at a crossroads this year and must pick the likes of Gold Coast Titans prop Jarrod Wallace to ensure they extend their stunning Origin dynasty.
Veteran front-rowers Nate Myles and Jacob Lillyman again look set to benefit from Queensland’s famous loyalty system for May 31’s series opener after the Maroons’ record run of 10 series wins in 11 years.
However, Bennett believes Queensland will find themselves in the rare position of playing “catch up” if they don’t start planning for the future this year.
“You have to think about the future right now because there are a lot of issues there,” Bennett said of the Maroons team.
“Queensland are in a great position to do that.
“They want to win the series but they are not under pressure to win the series.
“We know there is a generation change happening.
“It’s whether you control that or let it get out of control and then you are playing catch up – I know what the best position is.”
Wallace, 25, has been a revelation since leaving Brisbane and earning a starting front-row berth for the Titans this season.
He is averaging 147m and 33 tackles a game, including his 204m effort in Gold Coast’s last round 38-36 upset over leaders Melbourne.
Asked if Wallace should be considered for Origin I, Bennett said: “I don’t think Jarrod can do much more.
“He’s playing a lot of minutes and they are winning games against quality teams.
“He has a great tackle technique, he will never fail you defensively, he carries the ball well and no-one says he’s not tough.
“It’s a tough one. Are you thinking about the future or thinking about today?”
Queensland’s Origin I squad will be named on Monday.