Maroons place faith in Mbye
Moses Mbye's dream of playing State of Origin is a step closer to reality with one of the eight players suspended for breaking curfew at the Emerging Origin camp endorsing his credentials for the Maroons.
With Ben Hunt and Anthony Milford both removed from selection contention for the next 12 months Mbye is moved two spots up a list of Queensland playmakers ready to step into the shoes of either Johnathan Thurston or Cooper Cronk.
With past Origin experience Daly Cherry-Evans and Michael Morgan would be the first two names on the list of alternates but the removal of Hunt and Milford in the short term at least puts Mbye very much in the picture.
The classy Bulldogs half impressed many good judges with how he stepped up to start 19 of 23 games last season in the halves with his mature head another attractive aspect to Queensland coach Kevin Walters.
One of the most in-demand players coming off contract in 2016, Mbye has grabbed the attention of opposition players with his control and powerful running game including Hunt, who is tipping big things in 2016.
"I've seen him improve a hell of a lot I feel," Hunt said.
"He's really stood up and taken his opportunity and I think the Bulldogs have realised that and know what they've got there and I think he's ready to go on.
"His best strength is his running game. He's really strong and able to break tackles and when he comes to the line he's got a little dummy and he can slide through pretty easily.
"I think he'd be one of the quickest halves in the game so as soon as he gets into the space he's gone.
"The more that he can take the line on and have a crack at running the better he'll be."
Walters believes that the next step for Mbye is to broaden his scope to not only produce individual pieces of brilliance but like all the great playmakers in the game to make those around him look even better.
"Everyone's got their different styles and he is a bit different again but I think that's a great thing for the Bulldogs and for Queensland Rugby League," Walters told NRL.com.
"He's got a very cool head on young shoulders. He had the introduction basically last year to first grade and he'll be so much better for his time there last year.
"Obviously playing in the halves can be quite difficult, particularly for younger people but I'm sure that Des [Hasler, Bulldogs coach] being an old halfback himself, he's in pretty safe hands.
"It's not so much ownership [of the team] but taking that next step of being accountable for everything that he does. Just thinking a little bit more about others around him rather than just yourself.
"It's more about the team than your own individual performance which he'll learn and pick up because he's a talented young kid."
January's camp was Mbye's first in the senior Emerging Origin squad and having worked with Walters with the Maroons under-20s in 2012 is excited to be now in the frame to make the jump to Origin level.
"It's always a thrill to be wearing the Maroon colour with the boys and a good experience to be involved," he said.
"It's an exciting time for Queensland at the moment. We've got a new head coach in Kevin Walters and he is full of enthusiasm and looking to make a mark so everyone's really excited to learn a little bit more off him."