DCE: Norman’s time has come
They don't look a natural fit and it's not exactly the easiest game to find your feet in - but Queensland skipper Daly Cherry-Evans believes halves partner Corey Norman has waiting long enough for his Maroons shot.
Cherry-Evans and Norman are Queensland's odd couple halves pairing - the clean-cut family man and the controversial, maverick talent once suspended for drug possession.
Former Origin coach Wayne Bennett said he never had any issues when one of his halves was a bit of a larrikin because he felt it was that type of bold personality most suited to the role.
They have certainly got that in Norman, who makes his Origin debut at age 28 when many others are saying goodbye rather than hello to big-time football.
"We have worked hard (together),'' Cherry-Evans said of Norman.
"On and off the training paddock we have been talking about footy. Trying to understand each other's game the best we can.
"Preparation has been important this game. We have all seen what Corey Norman can do on a footy field and if he brings his best game he will be all right."
Asked whether he thought Norman was ready for Origin football, Cherry-Evans said: "Yeah, I do."
"He has waited a long time," he said. "He has played good football for a long time and I think when you have to wait a long time, you don't want to let that opportunity pass. I don't think the occasion is too big for him.
"I think the moment is right for him, as long as he believes that he is going to go a long way to making an impact in this game.''
Coach Kevin Walters has a soft spot for players like Norman and Cherry-Evans because they are old-fashioned types who look as if their skills are honed by hundreds of backyard games, just as his and his brothers' were.
"He is just another typical footballer where he reads the game well and plays the game well,'' Walters said.
"We expect nothing more than that come Wednesday night. We are really happy with what he has been doing in camp.''