Slater (fullback), Lewis (five-eighth), Thurston (halfback) and Lockyer (bench) didn’t vote for themselves but received a vote from all other members of the expert judging panel.
Meninga, a member of the inaugural Queensland team in 1980 who went on to play 33 Origin matches, was chosen by everyone at centre. Cameron Smith was also unanimously selected as hooker of the Maroons all-time team.
Meninga edged out Wayne Bennett and Arthur Beetson for the coaching duties on the strength of leading the state to an unprecedented eight consecutive series wins from 2006-13.
Broncos legends Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri nabbed the wing jerseys ahead of Darius Boyd and Kerry Boustead. The late Beetson, who led the Maroons in the first Origin match, was a popular choice at prop alongside Shane Webcke, who relegated Petero Civoniceva to the bench.
Fullback: Billy Slater
“If you look at a lot of the great moments in Origin, Billy is in a fair view of them.” – Darren Lockyer.
“Basically every time that Billy was coming on to the ball you knew something was about to take place for Queensland.” – Wally Lewis.
Wingers: Wendell Sailor and Lote Tuqiri
“You could have the best set of six and kick to the corner, then they would pick the ball up on their try line and go Wendell, 15 metres, then Lote 15 metres. In Origin you need your wingers to be like front rowers. They were just so big and strong.” – Andrew Johns.
“That’s what you need, big bodies coming out getting you on the front foot. Also, Lote scores a lot of tries on the end of the backline.” – Johnathan Thurston.
Centres: Mal Meninga and Greg Inglis
“Mal was just Mal. Right from the very first Origin, he was unstoppable at times.” – Paul Vautin.
“I used to mark up against him all the time and it was a huge task. There were games where my only objective was to tackle Mal. I was just sent out there with ‘okay make sure you just tackle Mal’.” – Brad Fittler.
“Like Billy a wonderful athlete, and when he was on no one could contain him. He was a special player.” – Darren Lockyer
“Without him in our side I don’t think we would have had that streak like we did. He could find a way to the try line and win us the game. Just give him the ball and watch him do the rest.” – Johnathan Thurston.
Five-eighth: Wally Lewis
“When I think of Queensland and Origin, I think of Wally Lewis.” – Peter Sterling.
“Origin wouldn’t be what it is today without Wally. When you look at his performances and how many man-of-the-matches he had, that’s why there’s only one kind.” – Andrew Johns.
“A special player and the best I’ve ever seen.” – Darren Lockyer.
Halfback: Johnathan Thurston
“When the big play needed to happen, it was always Thurston involved in some way.” – Andrew Johns.
“I watched him develop from a talented special footballer into a leader. Into someone that people wanted to follow.” – Darren Lockyer
Props: Shane Webcke and Arthur Beetson
“He wasn’t a guy that was too spectacular. He was just a work horse. He wasn’t a guy who sought a rest or a pat on the back.” – Wally Lewis
“There’s so much more to State of Origin than just the game of footy. Without him, we don’t have it.” – Brad Fittler
“He’s only played one game of Origin but everyone has him in their team because he’s the spiritual leader. He’s the reason why Origin started the way it did. I think he would be our captain.” – Darren Lockyer.
Hooker: Cameron Smith
“I’ve gone public before and said Cameron is the best player I’ve ever seen.” Andrew Johns.
“Since Wally he has been the GOAT – the greatest of all time. If Andrew Johns, a New South Welshman, says Cameron Smith is the greatest of all time then you have to believe it. For Queensland he was just an absolute wizard.” – Paul Vautin
Backrowers: Trevor Gillmeister and Gorden Tallis
“Gilly typifies what Queensland is about. He just never gives up, is tough and uncompromising. The opposition feared him a lot but he never feared anyone.” – Darren Lockyer.
“He was a magnificent captain in the ’95 series and we wouldn’t have won it without him.” – Paul Vautin.
“Whenever Gorden went on the field you’d get plenty of emotion attached to his performance. He was prepared to do anything possible, whether it was legal or not, to ensure Queensland had the best possible chance of success.” – Wally Lewis
“You speak to the people who played alongside him and they say if he had that look in his eye you knew you weren’t going to lose.” – Johnathan Thurston
Lock: Bob Lindner
“If I could give Bobby one wrap, it’s that he was playing with a broken leg in a State of Origin game. I remember screaming at him ‘get off the ground Bobby, get over the blind side, I need you’. He said I can’t and continued for 10 or 15 minutes. Then I got a message from a trainer who said he had to come off ‘he’s got a broken leg’.” – Wally Lewis.
“He was a great inspirational captain for us. A great leader.” – Paul Vautin.
“He was an idol of mine. To get the opportunity to play with him I was like a kid in a candy shop.” – Johnathan Thurston.
“Petero was a wonderful player. He worked so hard and was a tireless performer. He can be described as one of the nicest blokes you will ever meet, unless you were the opposition.” – Wally Lewis.
“Petero was one of those guys who gave you confidence in the dressing room. You just knew you weren’t going to be pushed around or intimidated.” – Darren Lockyer.
“He was the type of guy in that era where he had a bit of skill. He was probably underestimated by the opposition but he was a very smart footballer.” – Darren Lockyer.
“Fatty has been my right-hand man for so long. He was the guy I trusted on the football field more than any other.” – Wally Lewis.
“He’s one of the greatest halves ever. He inspired those around him.” – Johnathan Thurston.
“Alf was a winner. When the game was in the balance, he wanted the football and he got the result for us.” – Darren Lockyer”.
Coach: Mal Meninga
“Mal changed everything about the Queensland game. He had quite a few good players to work with, but everyone will say he turned a good player into a great player.” – Wally Lewis.
“He has an aura about him because of what he has done on the field. The players respected him and listened to him. His record in this arena, you won’t beat it.” – Darren Lockyer.
Michael Chammas is a sports reporter with The Sydney Morning Herald