• Will Cashmore

The Set Of Six: The Most Mediocre Players to play for QLD

I am saving the best challenge for last.

Finding a set of mediocre players who were selected for the QLD Maroons in the past decade, is a lot like finding a needle in a haystack. The Cane Toads dominated the Origin arena in the initial years of the decade in focus (2011-2020), before NSW have brought back some competitiveness and a slight bit of biff in the years since.

When you’ve got guys like Slater, Thurston, Inglis, Cronk and Smith forming the real core of the team, it is hard to really stand out as mediocre.

But don’t worry Queenslanders, it’s not all sunshine and fake tans up in your parts, because if you look really closely, there have been some real duds to pull on the mighty maroon.

Alright give it to me Billy.




The Forwards

Coen Hess (2017-2020) – 6 Games

You know what they say. Strike whilst the iron is hot, and the jury is out. Coen Hess is not an Origin player. This Ivan Drago looking MOFO is built like a brick shithouse, yet lately he has been literally playing shithouse, irrespective of whether it is in NRL or State Of Origin. Coen has so much potential to break out, but he just seems so disinterested on the field, which is a shame.

Hess played in Game I of the ongoing series, but was promptly axed after an uninspiring performance which had many questioning if he was even out there. “Well of course he was out there” many would say, I mean look at the size of him. Although therein lies the issue, he doesn’t do enough.

David Shillington (2009-2013) – 8 Games

Is there anything more adorable then a supposedly imposing Front-Row Forward, who head-butts a younger, more popular FRF out of pure jealousy and spite, to then whine like the little girl he is when Sent Off. This is my most favourite David Shillington memory. It was seared into my brain when watching my Tigers beat Canberra in the Nation’s Capital, and the veteran Shillington head-butted Aaron Woods in a Scrum tussle.

I cracked up so hard, and was bemused by big Dave’s reaction to the dreaded finger point. He just always tried too hard to be a firebrand throughout his career. Who else would have the nerve to punch on with Shannon Hegarty in your NRL debut? David Shillington, that’s who apparently.

Anyways, Shillington was largely featured on the QLD bench rotation, but did earn two starts when Petero Civoniceva was injured for Game II, 2010, and another in his final SOO appearance in 2013. But who really cares, the head-butt is his legacy.

Chris McQueen (2013-2014) – 6 Games

Every Grandfather has some wise words to pass onto their grandchildren. Well my Grandpa often targets tattoos as the source of his displeasure. “Look at all those bloody tattoos, they don’t make you any tougher” he’ll say, and I’ll reply “Hey John check out this picture of Mick Jagger I just got tattooed on my arse”. No, this did not actually happen but one can dream.

However, Grandpa does genuinely hate tattoos, and in some ways he’s right, tattoos do not equal toughness. When looking at Chris McQueen, the body ink is the first thing you notice, but in his case it does equal toughness. I mean how many other blokes can fight back and play NRL after a broken freaking neck. Very few, is the answer. He was solid for QLD but give me a break, I’m really clutching at straws with this state.

The Backs

Moses Mbye (2019) 3 Games

Could you imagine Moses Mbye lifting up the Proven-Summons Trophy after winning the NRL Grand Final? I mean not to worry, he is the skipper of my Tigers and we have a permanent residency in the Bottom 8. But still, weird right. Anyways, I think it was the geniuses at the Daily Telegraph, who had the intelligence to claim QLD were under pressure in 2020 without many star players available.

Now this is true, in the case of Michael Morgan and Kalyn Ponga, but it absolutely IS NOT the same with Moses Mbye, despite what that dingus Buzz Rothfield has to say. Mbye is hardly first grade standard, let alone Origin standard. His horrendous reads in defence cripples any chance the Tigers have to build consistency, it’s that bad, and he seems oblivious to it if you read his comments in the media. It amazes me, how he was perceived to be the best utility option for QLD in 2019.

Justin O’Neill (2016-2017) – 4 Games

After the departure of long-time badass centre Justin Hodges, and I say that with plenty of intentional sarcasm just to be clear, QLD were in need of a new centre partner for GI. Justin O’Neill was a handy replacement. Sure, he had no real flash or vibrancies in his game, but he would never let you down.

Unfortunately for Justin, this is how I define a Mediocre NRL Player, so he gets a spot on this QLD Origin list. Fun fact about Justin, he was in the Vanuatu train-on squad in 2012, but didn’t play in the game against Greece, instead filling trainer duties. Part of me wants to believe it was because the coach didn’t think he was in their best 17, despite just winning a Premiership at Melbourne. A bigger part of me doesn’t want to find out, because if this was the case, I don’t know if Rugby League comedy gets any better unless you’re Erin Molan trying to do serious Rugby League journalism.

Dane Nielsen (2011-2012) – 3 Games

Dane Nielsen was a naughty, naughty boy during his NRL career, I’m not even sure where to start. He was an agro centre, for example when sent off for a high tackle during a 2009 game against the Tigers. Fast forward to 2015, when Nielsen now a Dragon which was his 4th club by this time, was fired by the Red V not even half a year into his deal. This was for biting a women’s leg when on a drunken rampage. Like who does that? Strange bloke.

To complete this trilogy of dumb behaviour, he was sacked from the famous Junee Diesels before even playing a game, for more drunken shenanigans. Proud Junee sons Ray Warren and Laurie Daley must be disgusted. If you actually expected me to talk about Nielsen’s footy talent, of which there wasn’t a whole lot, then jog on, because as I said he didn’t have much which begs the question:

How did he get a start for QLD?

Bonus Edition in the Bonus Edition

QLD Maroons 2011-2020 Mediocre XIII

Fullback: Billy Slater (2018 Billy Slater who won the Wally Lewis Medal in a losing side despite only playing 2 of the 3 games)

Wingers: Phillip Sami and Dane Nielsen

Centres: Moses Mbye and Justin O’Neill

Five Eighth: Ben Hunt

Halfback: Ben Hunt (no not a typo)

Front Row: David Shillington and Ben Hannant

Hooker: Matt Ballin

Second Row: Coen Hess and Chris McQueen

Lock: Jacob Lillyman

Did we miss anyone out?

Who would be in your Mediocre QLD Maroons Set of Six?

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