NRL Rd 2 - Eels v Sharks
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MARCH 10: J'maine Hopgood of the Eels looks to pass during the round two NRL match between the Parramatta Eels and the Cronulla Sharks at CommBank Stadium on March 10, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Maroons coach Billy Slater has admitted that he is thrilled and impressed with the number of great forwards Queensland has to offer for the State of Origin series.

These choices include veteran Josh Papalii, and World Cup winners Pat Carrigan and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.

Sydney Rooster Lindsay Collins, Tom Gilbert, Thomas Flegler and locks J'maine Hopgood and Corey Horsburgh who are yet to appear in the Maroons jersey are also in the mix.

Slater will also have the options to choose impact players David Fifita, Felise Kaufusi, Reuben Cotter and Christian Welch. With the endless possibility of choices, Slater will have a tough decision to make.

Speaking to the AAP, the ex-Storm fullback has been looking at two primary things for his decision.

"The first thing you've got to consider as a selector or coach of the Queensland team is: Is the player capable?” Slater said to the AAP

"Do they have enough good habits and a well-rounded game that would stand up in a high-pressure environment like State of Origin?

"The second thing is: Is there an opportunity there?

"We are starting to get a whole heap of capable players who would do the job for Queensland."

BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - JULY 11: Thomas Flegler of the Broncos is tackled during the round nine NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the Canterbury Bulldogs at Suncorp Stadium on July 11, 2020 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

While speaking to the AAP, Slater went into detail about four specific players: Tom Gilbert, J'maine Hopgood, Thoms Flegler and Corey Horsburgh.

"Tom Gilbert is a great of example of capable connecting with opportunity," Slater said.

"Last year he showed a lot of people that he was more than capable of playing for Queensland and in Game Three he got his opportunity.

"J'maine Hopgood is starting to build that capability in his game. He's played some lovely footy.

"Tom Flegler was in all three camps last year but didn't get that opportunity to play.

"He is really developing his game as a front-rower this year and I think he has taken a couple of steps forward."

CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA - MAY 18: Corey Horsburgh of the Raiders makes a break during the round 10 NRL match between the Canberra Raiders and the South Sydney Rabbitohs at GIO Stadium on May 18, 2019 in Canberra, Australia. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

"You've got to ask yourself: Why does Corey make all those cover tackles? The answer is that he works hard," Slater said.

"That part of the game, you are not always needed, but it is a necessity to be there. He has built that work ethic in his game.

"Those things can sometimes go unnoticed, but they don't go unnoticed when I watch our Queensland players."

All the forwards will be looking to impress Slater as much as possible with the limited time until the Game 1 squad is selected.