Gordon Tallis V Andrew Johns

What you see is what you get with Gorden Tallis. And that's probably why the Queenslander won't be named Australia's next rugby league captain on Sunday night.

Rugby league politics which gives NSW a numerical advantage in the selection process will probably ensure Andrew Johns will get the job when the Test team to play Great Britain next Friday night is announced.

NSW and Newcastle skipper Johns is arguably the world's best league player and has plenty of merit to succeed Brad Fittler as Australian captain.

But Queensland and Brisbane skipper Tallis has proven over the years to be a much more inspirational figure, and that's not just the view of those with Maroon blood.

Tallis would have been completely justified in retiring last season after suffering a spinal cord injury that could have left him in a wheelchair.

But he fought back from the injury to return to the Broncos this year and lead Queensland to a defence of its State of Origin title.

Tallis had previously captained Queensland in just one game before his injury, when he led a largely untried side to a smashing upset over the Blues in last season's series opener at Lang Park.

The previous year he had been Fittler's deputy on the Kangaroos successful World Cup defence in Britain.

All of Tallis' teammates past and present make the same observation - he leads from the front.

"He does things that lift a team which can turn a game," said former Broncos Test winger and now rugby union international Wendell Sailor.

In the classic Australian cliche, Tallis is the sort of fellow you would like to have by your side if you were stuck in the trenches under heavy enemy fire.

And he would probably be the first over the top if the order was given to charge.

Tallis is also a leader unafraid to speak his mind.

When Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill was having another snipe at rugby league last year, Tallis suggested a challenge between the Kangaroos and the Wallabies.

Brisbane Lions AFL Brownlow Medallist Jason Akermanis attracted a strong response from Tallis when he labelled the rugby league State of Origin series as over-rated.

"Are you just dirty that your code's version of Origin football was so boring and attracted so little interest from the fans the AFL/VFL, whatever you want to call it, ended up scrapping it?" Tallis said.

Tallis has never been one to shy away from offering forthright and honest views, something which has made him popular particularly with his local media.

As an Australian captain, he would no doubt provide good copy.

Another admirable Tallis trait is that he sticks to his guns, as evidenced by his decision to sit out the 1996 season after St George refused to give him a release to Brisbane.

There's been no embarrassing moments for the Brisbane skipper away from the game.

But if he carries any excess baggage it is because of some on-field incidents.

In the opening game of the 2000 Origin series, Tallis was sent off after calling referee Bill Harrigan a cheat.

He came into conflict with the same referee in the first match of this year's series with Harrigan later admitting he erred in ordering Tallis to the sin-bin for play the ball infringements.

And then in the final game of the series this year he was caught on camera giving a foul-mouthed blast to some young NSW fans he thought had held up a sign denigrating his mother.

That action prompted an outcry and comments such as this from newspaper columnist Mike Gibson.

"Self-discipline. It is a quality that will stand you in good stead. Without it, life can be decidedly more difficult," Gibson wrote.

"Last week, under extenuating circumstances, Gorden Tallis failed to exercise it.

"Not for the first time, I must add. For all his footballing talents, the big bloke has never been a model of self-control. Fact

is, he regularly flips out.

"Which is why I doubt he will be chosen to captain Australia."

It seems a harsh call to penalise the captaincy candidature of Tallis over a couple of on-field controversies, but that looks the likely outcome on Sunday night even though he led the team that retained the State of Origin shield

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