Bittersweet Qld Origin debut for Arrow
Maroons player Jai Arrow poses for a photo during a Queensland Maroons media opportunity at Sanctuary Cove resort on the Gold Coast Wednesday, July 4, 2018. (AAP Image/Jono Searle)
Pulling on Queensland's No.8 jersey will feel "weird" for Jai Arrow.
But not because Arrow denied his State of Origin inspiration Jarrod Wallace a Maroons starting front-row spot to get it.
The 22-year-old will make his Origin starting debut when he runs out in the jersey made famous by the likes of Shane Webcke in Wednesday's game three.
It will be bittersweet for Arrow, who earns a front-row start while the man who inspired his Origin quest - Gold Coast Titans teammate Wallace - has been relegated from prop to the bench.
Arrow felt for Wallace but admitted it would be strange to don the great Maroons No.8 jersey after such a meteoric rise.
Arrow - who has played only 38 NRL games - will start for Queensland in just his third Origin.
"To be honest I didn't think I would play one game of NRL. To be pulling on the No.8 jersey will be weird but very exciting," Arrow said.
"Shane Webcke was a great for the Maroons. Knowing he has put on the jersey, I don't want to let anyone down."
Arrow stood up for Wallace, who copped plenty of flack for failing to crack 50m in the first two games this series.
"He copped a bit of criticism over the last few weeks for his Origin games but he has put the team first (in the games) and that's what you want," Arrow said of Wallace.
"He went back to club level and showed what he can do. He has come out firing.
"I think he has played his best footy the last couple of weeks after all the criticism he has copped."
Wallace inspired then Brisbane teammate Arrow to strive for higher honours when the prop left the Broncos for a regular start with the Gold Coast last year.
Wallace not only nailed down a Titans front-row berth last season, he used it to earn an Origin debut.
Arrow followed his lead, leaving Brisbane this year to join Wallace at the Titans - and now the Maroons.
"J-Wal (Wallace) is a great mate of mine and he was the first to congratulate me when we found out the team," Arrow said.
"He's been a leader at the Titans. There have been a few games where I have been a bit battered and bruised and he is always the first to grab me, slap me in the face and tell me to 'get up, we got a game, we got to win today'."
Arrow will pack down with Canberra wrecking ball Josh Papalii in a new-look Maroons front-row.
© AAP 2018