Walters: Time for Napa to ‘make his mark’
THROUGHOUT a six-game Origin career Dylan Napa has been solid without standing out from the pack. Queensland coach Kevin Walters say it's time the enforcer made himself known for the Maroons.
Napa is under pressure to muscle up in game two this Sunday night, with statistics showing it has been two years since he ran for 100 metres or more in an Origin match.
With game one starting No.8 Jai Arrow (ankle) ruled out for the series, Walters has promoted Napa off the bench and is banking on his 198cm and 113kg frame to steal the midfield from the Blues at Perth's Optus Stadium.
For all his size and aggression, Napa has been largely contained by the Blues in his six-game Origin career.
In four consecutive Origin games, the 26-year-old has been kept to an average of 79m per game, including 85m from 11 runs in Queensland's 18-14 triumph in the series opener a fortnight ago.
The finest game of Napa's interstate career came in June 2017, when he charged for 124m to inspire Queensland's 18-16 fightback in game two, and now Walters wants the Maroons hitman to deliver the game of his life.
"I just feel the time is right for Dylan Napa to make his mark at this level," Walters said.
"It's really disappointing to lose Jai because his workrate and attitude typifies everything about this Queensland team, but by starting Dylan, I'm giving him this opportunity to show us what he's got.
"I'll back Dylan. He has played some good games for Queensland.
"He's got nothing to prove except to his teammates and the state of Queensland that he is an Origin player."
Walters believes it was one of the low points of Napa's NRL career in pre-season that has made him a wiser and stronger campaigner for the Maroons.
The flame-haired forward was fined 10 per cent of his salary by the NRL for his role in the infamous 'Big Papi' sex-tape saga, but Walters lauded Napa's mental resilience.
"Dylan is more mature, he has gone through a bit off the field and he's learnt from it," Walters said.
"Queensland has shown a lot of faith in Dylan and I certainly believe he belongs in this arena.
"He is a big unit. He is very physical and it will be a physical game on Sunday night, no doubt about that."
Former Maroons prop Webcke applauded Napa's elevation from the interchange bench.
"I would have picked him in the starting side for Game One," Webcke said.
"He's got that hard edge to him, he should go out there and soften up the NSW forwards in the first 20 minutes."