CLOSE BONDS: Dane Gagai trains with the Maroons in the lead-up to tonight's game two.
CLOSE BONDS: Dane Gagai trains with the Maroons in the lead-up to tonight's game two. DAVE HUNT

Simple trick helping Maroons stick together year-round

LOYALTY? It's dead. Or it's alive. Or something.

Whichever it is, it's a word often thrown around in the black and white print of your sports pages.

And the myth was confirmed - or busted - when Queensland made a whopping seven changes to the side that lost Origin I at Suncorp Stadium three weeks ago.

But if you thought the axed players would be dead to the rest of the Maroons group, you would be wrong. Dead wrong.

In fact, such is the bond of the Queensland representatives - current and past - they've got a running group chat tying the players together year-round.

Dane Gagai - a relative rookie compared to the likes of Maroons teammate and captain Cameron Smith - revealed the simple bonding medium ahead of his sixth appearance for the state.

"It's funny, we've got a big group chat," Gagai said.

"Once the series was done last year after game three everyone keeps chatting all the way through until game one this year.

"Everyone stays in contact and that's the best thing about this place. You come back in and it's like you haven't left."

It's a simple but effective method designed to make the Queensland team actually feel like a team.

It's the key to the Maroons winning 10 of the past 11 Origin series.

And while it may help their football, rugby league isn't the focus of their group conversations.

"Just everything and anything," Gagai said when asked the main topic of conversation.

"There's boys in this team that have been together for over 10 years, I'm one of the new guys that has come in but they make you feel welcome.

"The best thing about this team - I've only been a part of it for two years - just the way everyone is; not just the players, the families and wives and partners.

"I can only assume that Mal (Meninga) was a big instigator in all that. It's a really family oriented place, everyone still talks."

The Maroons old boys who have been dropped for Origin II - Sam Thaiday, Nate Myles, Jacob Lillyman et cetera - will remain in the group chat.

And the newcomers - Coen Hess, Tim Glasby, Val Holmes, Jarrod Wallace - will immediately be added to the conversation.

And when you're in, you're in.

"Anyone that comes in, once you're in the team you're in," Gagai said.

"That's the best thing about it ... when I was coming in and playing with guys who had played 10 years of Origin it was pretty daunting at first."

"A few of the senior boys said to me I deserve to be there, and once you're there you're no different to anyone else.

"Smithy (Cameron Smith), all the boys, are really good at making you feel that nobody is bigger than the jersey."

News Corp Australia

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