Greg Inglis a natural fit as greats tip Rabbitoh to be Maroons captain

There would be a certain finality to one of Origin's greatest enduring spats should Greg Inglis lead Queensland to a series victory over NSW.

After all, just in case you missed, say, a decade of arguments, Inglis could well be playing for the other team. Whether he signed up for the goodies or the baddies depends on your postcode.

Born in Kempsey and not moving to Brisbane until his mid-teens, the Inglis eligibility debate raged on for much of his Origin career, eventually becoming the catalyst for tighter rules about who can play for whom.

Leadership material: Greg Inglis is being tipped to be the next Queensland captain.

By that point, Inglis was so sick of the sledging and derision that he told the folks in blue to simply give up and move on. The noise always tended to get a lot louder after he played a blinder, which was often.

For those north of the border, Inglis became synonymous with an era of Origin domination that never seemed possible. Along with Jonathan Thurston, Darren Lockyer and Billy Slater, he would become a proven matchwinner, at times toying with opponents unable to contain his combination of size, power and speed.

Next in line: Will Inglis take over as Maroons captain from Cameron Smith, here celebrating in 2009.

Now Inglis could enter the next phase of his representative career after the shock retirement from the Maroons and Kangaroos of captain Cameron Smith. He has emerged as the stand out candidate to replace Smith as captain for Queensland and possibly the Kangaroos.

At 31, Inglis has been given the backing of Mal Meninga and Thurston to take up the role. Slater's name has also been included but, at 34, he may well be about to embark on his final series.

"The obvious choice would be Greg Inglis, over 30 games in there and from all reports, his leadership has grown at South Sydney and he's playing some really good football," Thurston said on Wednesday.

It seems the right time for Inglis to assume the mantle. His comeback from a knee injury has gathered significant steam over the past month and he enters Origin in strong form on the field.

He was front and centre for the NRL's Indigenous Round and has grown enormously in stature outside of rugby league. His South Sydney teammates have strongly endorsed his leadership qualities.

So has Maroons great Steve Renouf, another who believes Inglis would fit the bill. But he said the job came with the kind of pressure Inglis may not crave.

"He’s got the Souths captaincy and he’s matured a lot. He’s got the respect of all of the other players. He’d do a good job," Renouf said. "I suppose one thing you have to consider is his own wellbeing. That might come into his decision. He may not want that on his plate. He’s had some mental health problems in the past and he got some help with that. He might think ‘I don’t need that added pressure at this stage of my career’. It would be a great thing to captain Origin but I think he’d be good if everything is all good with him."

Renouf said Queensland were blessed with some strong candidates but doubt most observers have grasped the enormity of the hole left by Smith, both as a player and a leader.

"Cam Smith leaves a massive hole. You can’t underestimate that. That’s huge, what just went down. They really have to pull together now. It’s just massive. It’s huge. Kevvie would have been devastated when he heard that. You can’t play down how big the hole will be without his playing and his leadership.

"Even his last game, he just dominated. He did it so easily. He just dominated. You can’t replicate that. He took the game by the scruff of the neck from the moment it started."

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