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Hess tipped to wear maroon (or black red and gold).



Speculation is mounting among the best brains in Rugby League punditry as to what is going to happen to the beleaguered Maroon pack. The engine-room of the Queensland team was out-muscled in the opening match of this year's Origin series, and coach Kev Walters will want to redress the imbalance.

In the firing-line are veterans Nate Miles and Cameron Smith, who were deplorable last week and failed to meet their KPIs in tackling, metres after impact, and thugging.

At a press conference from the team camp in Tahiti this morning, the normally chipper coach Kev Walters was cagey about his plans. He agreed that Miles is facing the chop, and 'twilight' Smith was past his best, but that no decisions will be made until after all prospective replacements had been thoroughly hazed.

"We've put a lot of investment into Nate's needs," explained Walters. "There's a porta-potty around every corridor at the team hotel wherever we stay. Not cheap. And as for Cam, he has certainly paid his dues. He's in credit as far as dues are concerned. But the trouble is that in Origin football the dues are always due. There's so many dues. And if you don't stump up for the dues, if you've paid all the dues you can pay, you just end up looking like a tragic, bald has-been who somehow broke through security and stumbled onto the field. Just take a look at Alfie."

One of the names that has been put forward for selection is that of Cowboys workaday strongman, Coen Hess. However, an unnamed source within the CowHouse, has indicated that Hess is seriously deliberating whether to accept the call-up should it come. Hess, already under enormous pressure to fulfill his acting and hostage-negotiation commitments, is understood to be seeking clarification whether playing for the maroons would scupper his dream of representing Germany in the upcoming World Cup. In addition, he is known never to miss Mah Jong night at the CowHouse on Wednesdays.

All of this is to say nothing of the position of the Cowboys management team. Coach and self-professed Russophobe, Paul Green, already facing some searching questions from the Cowboys board on team performance, is sure to be reluctant to release any of his stars for an exhibition match.

Green has been burnt once already this season with playmaker Jonathan Thurston injured in a meaningless extra-curricular game against New Zealand. He is unlikely to make the same mistake again.

The Maroons squad is due to be selected next week.

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