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Hess vows to honour Maroons legends

Coen Hess has spoken of the huge expectations on the Queensland pack due to the standards set by Maroons legends of the past and vowed not to let the state down on Wednesday night at the MCG.

The talk south of the Tweed River is that NSW have a massive advantage in the forward pack on the form front ahead of the Holden State of Origin series-opener, but the Cowboys powerhouse said keeping the Queensland fans happy would be motivation enough to prove that assessment wrong.

"We have big Naps [Dylan Napa] and J Wal [Jarrod Wallace] who will do a good opening job for us so it's up to us bench guys to step in after they come off and continue what they have already started," Hess said. 

"You have to see what the pack did in previous years. They had that good period where they won nine out of 10 series and we grew up watching Matt Scott, Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, all those boys who pulled on the Maroons jumper and how they went about their business.

"Origin is tough through the middle and a brutal battle. Seeing what they brought every year was pretty extraordinary. I know how proud I was as a Queenslander watching them do their job every year. It's upon us now to live up to that and keep Queenslanders happy."

Maroons back-rower Coen Hess.
Maroons back-rower Coen Hess. ©Scott Davis/NRL Photos

Maroons veteran Gavin Cooper has had plenty of involvement in Hess' development in recent years and said that the critics who had questioned his position in the Queensland squad were wide of the mark.

"There has been a lot said about him even getting in the team," Cooper said.

"I know he is not playing the same role he was last year in club land so he is not coming on when the big tired forwards in the middle and scoring two tries a game. Everyone thinks he is having a shit year because we are not getting results at the club but Hessy's form has been quite good."

Hess' job for the Cowboys is to play the full 80 but he conceded his job on Wednesday night would be "to create some impact."

"My minutes will be limited, but I have to do as much as I can in that time-frame," he said.

"I found it pretty tough starting the year [playing 80 minutes] but midway through the season I found myself again. I wasn't scoring as many tries as last year but my role in the team is a lot clearer to me now."

Hess came on the scene as an edge back-rower but said his transition into a forward that also played in the middle had "simplified everything for me".

"I was all over the shop in the back row and I learned my trade pretty hard, but being thrust into the middle through injuries really helped me develop as a player and now it has added to my personal arsenal," he said.

Hess knew that his position was far from secured before the Origin side was named. He was a relieved man when Maroons coach Kevin Walters called to say he was in.

"You have a few flashbacks," he said.

"I'm not a very religious person but I was praying that I did get the call. I just wanted this jersey so bad and we were in review of the Cowboys game when my phone went off in my pocket. I was hoping it was Kevvie calling, I was relieved when I found out I was in the team.

"He could have been calling me to say I wasn't in the team. But him calling was a sign."

Hess expects an explosive encounter with a Blues pack that had already thrown pre-match barbs.

"They will start firey and so will we…and the bench guys will continue that battle. It will be a very brutal game," he said.

"That's Origin in a nutshell. We look forward to the physical battle and heads will clash and there will be bumps and bruises. It's the main reason why Origin is so special."

Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Bronze tickets available from $49 here.


Acknowledgement of Country

North Queensland Cowboys respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.