Queensland Reboots for State of Origin Decider
Although they came back from a 1-0 deficit in the second State of Origin match last month to level the series, Queensland go into the decider against the New South Wales Blues next Wednesday with some major back line injuries requiring some reshuffling.
After missing State of Origin I because he was recovering from injury, Cowboys skipper Johnathan Thurston was fit enough to play for Queensland in Game 2. Although his three goals from three attempts helped the Maroons to victory, he injured his shoulder again in a tackle on Blues forward Tyson Frizell. He will require surgery, and has announced his retirement from representative NRL.
Queensland is also missing Anthony Milford, who replaced Thurston at five-eighths for State of Origin I, his Maroons debut. Shortly after that match, the Broncos star also picked up a shoulder injury, in a club match against the Rabbitohs. Queensland centre Darius Boyd is also out for at least six weeks, after breaking his thumb in State of Origin II.
Ben Hunt a Controversial Replacement
Coach Kevin Walters has chosen the Broncos’ Ben Hunt to replace Thurston, saying Hunt’s versatility was the deciding factor. Melbourne Storm utility back Cameron Munster is now in the starting line-up, after debuting for the Maroons on the bench in State of Origin II.
But fans of Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans are crying foul, convinced that Walters has personal reasons for excluding him in favour of Hunt. It’s hard to argue with their logic: Cherry-Evans has played some blinding rugby league recently, impenetrable in defence and responsible for the Round 13 field goal that took the Sea Eagles to a nail-biting one-point victory against the Raiders.
Hunt, on the other hand, gets his call-up to the state side just a month after he was dropped from the Broncos and relegated to feeder club the Ipswich Jets, then recalled two weeks later. So there may be something to the rumours that Cherry-Evans has a strained relationship with Maroons skipper Cameron Smith, and speculation that this animosity has more to do with his exclusion than Hunt’s allegedly superior versatility.
Full Maroons Side for Wednesday
Walters announced the team for Wednesday in alphabetical order, with no positions named, leaving his options open. The full Maroons side comprises Will Chambers, Gavin Cooper, Cooper Cronk, Dane Gagai, Matt Gillet, Tim Glasby, Coen Hess, Valentine Holmes, Ben Hunt, Josh McGuire, Michael Morgan, Cameron Munster, Dylan Napa, Josh Papalii, Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Jarrod Wallace.
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