AAP Rugby

Walters backs Papalii to channel Webb

By AAP Newswire

Queensland coach Kevin Walters has backed Josh Papalii to channel ex-Maroons enforcer Carl Webb in a new-look front-row in Wednesday's State of Origin III.

Papalii, 26, has started only five games at prop in his entire eight-season NRL career.

But the Canberra wrecking ball vowed this week to do an impression of livewire Webb, best remembered for his horror haircut and even worse treatment of NSW prop Luke Bailey in the 2005 series opener.

Papalii makes his Queensland front-row debut in a reshuffled pack for the Suncorp Stadium dead rubber, packing down alongside Gold Coast lock Jai Arrow.

It marks only the second time Papalii has started in his 11 Origin career - the other instance was in the second-row.

However, Walters believed Papalii could conjure Webb's menace as Queensland look to avoid NSW's first series whitewash since 2000.

"He has been one of our better forwards in the opening two games," Walters said of 112kg, 182cm Papalii.

"He's got a body that can handle the Origin arena.

"And as we've seen in the opening two games he can be quite damaging with the ball.

"If he can come up with a performance like Carl Webb did several years back that would be pretty inspiring I reckon."

Queensland back-rower Gavin Cooper said he knew exactly what to expect from Papalii on front-row Origin debut - and it didn't sound good for NSW.

"Every time he has put on the jersey, he is going head first into collisions and that's the way he plays, he plays tough and it's cool to see," he said.

"There's not a whole lot of people who bring his toughness. There is no slowing down to whatever he does - he leads the way and as a teammate you love to see that."