Built for Origin .... Coen Hess in action for the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville
Built for Origin .... Coen Hess in action for the Cowboys at 1300SMILES Stadium in Townsville MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Should Maroons turn to Bundaberg-bred monster?

THE post-mortem into what went wrong for Queensland continues in the wake of a humbling defeat in Origin I last week.

NSW hammered the Maroons 28-4 in Brisbane to record its biggest away win in Origin history.

The Maroons also have some serious headaches up front. Their ageing forwards were out-muscled by a Blues pack led by a rampaging Andrew Fifita, and without any changes, they risk suffering the same fate in Sydney in two weeks.

Speaking the day after Origin I, former NSW front-rower Mark Geyer told the Triple M Grill Team veteran big boppers Sam Thaiday, Jacob Lillyman, Aidan Guerra and Nate Myles all need to be moved on. It's hard to see all four of them being axed, but if at least one of them was to miss out, who comes in?

The one name that keeps cropping up is North Queensland second-rower Coen Hess. The 20-year-old is a man mountain standing at 1.9m tall and weighing 110kg, and is a Queensland star in waiting.

His coach at the Cowboys Paul Green doesn't believe he's ready to make the step up to representative footy just yet, but won't stand in his way if selected. Queensland coach Kevin Walters has been coy on his prospects, saying he will definitely don the Maroons jersey one day, he's just not sure when.

Hess has already scored nine tries in 12 games this year and has racked up seven line breaks and 39 tackle breaks. He averages nearly 100m a game in 2017 - pretty impressive for someone who generally plays on the edge - and hits big in defence.

 

Hess scores a try against  the Gold Coast Titans at 1300SMILES Stadium
Hess scores a try against the Gold Coast Titans at 1300SMILES Stadium MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Former Queensland legend Ben Ikin says Hess may be raw, but has a spark Queensland so desperately needs if it's to salvage this year's series.

"How he runs the ball, his energy throughout the game and what he can bring from pure passion, size and aggression is made for the Origin arena," Ikin told NRL 360 this week.

"So even if you used him for 15 or 20 minutes in the middle ... if he gets it right will be very hard to handle."

News Corp rugby league journalist Paul Kent called Hess a "monster" and Blues coach Laurie Daley views him as tailor-made for the interstate cauldron.

"He's a good player, Coen Hess. He's only young but he looks every bit the Origin player," Daley said.

Daley's Origin advisor and former NSW halfback Peter Sterling agrees, saying Hess has the ability to break an Origin game wide open.

"He offers plenty of size. You talk about 'impact players' - he certainly has that and if you weren't using him for big minutes in an Origin game he could really do some damage for a short period of time," Sterling said on Triple M's Dead Set Legends.

 

Hess tackled by Sea Eagles defence in round 3.
Hess tackled by Sea Eagles defence in round 3. MICHAEL CHAMBERS

Geyer and Matty Johns have both said Hess should be included for Game 2 and Queensland legend Gorden Tallis agrees. "Coen Hess, they say that he's not ready for Origin yet, my oath he's ready," Tallis said on the Matty Johns Show on Monday.

Hess debuted in first grade in 2015 and was named in the National Youth Competition (Under-20s) team of the year, while he has also represented the Junior Kangaroos. In 2016 he added eight more first grade appearances to his resume, scoring four tries.

The man himself said after the weekend's win over the Titans he doesn't believe he's ready for Origin. Whether that's him being modest, his gut feeling or he's just trying to fall into line with what his club coach has said is anyone's guess. If he does really think that, he's one of very few with that opinion.

Cronulla flyer Valentine Holmes - who missed out on a spot on the wing for Queensland despite representing Australia in this year's Anzac Test - told Peter Sterling on Fox Sports Hess is ready for the big time. Former Blues hooker Michael Ennis also says Hess is just the tonic for the Maroons.

"To have a big, powerful tearaway like Coen Hess is just what they need," he said.

Queensland is famous for its pick and stick philosophy, so whether Hess or any other forward for that matter gets a shot to impress on the big stage remains to be seen. But even the loyal Cane Toads will admit at least some changes need to be made if they're to stop NSW winning its first shield since 2014.

News Corp Australia


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