Discussing the QLD Origin team for the first time in a decade

This feels almost strange to discuss, as, for the bulk of the last successful decade of Origin, the Queensland side has almost picked itself.

Only injury, or the odd emergence of a young superstar, has kept the likes of Meninga and then Walters from simply hitting the copy and paste keys when submitting their Origin selections.

However, in 2017 a mixture of long-term injuries, the emergence of a list of young players, and a return from a long-term injury have combined to create selection headaches for the first time in many, many years.

Although the likes of Cronk, Thurston and Smith have mortgages on their jumpers for as long as they want them, there will be some ageing Origin greats looking nervously over their shoulder, while a few key positions will need to be filled due to injury.

Matt Scott and Greg Inglis, two automatic selections for as long as I can remember, will both miss the series due to season-ending injuries, while the return of Billy Slater looms as a decision that will need to be made.

Related: Fancy playing coach? Pick your Origin team now!

Nate Myles has slowed considerably in the past two seasons while the likes of Guerra and Lillyman may find themselves in selection battles.

Michael Morgan will have to hold off the likes of Milford, Friend, and Munster to retain his spot on the bench, while the return to form of Cherry-Evans may also provide a talking point.

Queenslanders, it’s your turn to let your voices be heard. Who runs out onto Suncorp Stadium in game one? Below are the likely options for each of the positions.


Darius Boyd or Billy Slater

Despite the incredible talents of Cameron Munster and Valentine Holmes, this is a two horse race. It can be argued that both men, at their best, should be picked in any side in the world, but this is a tough choice. Slater has been electric since his return to the game after two seasons out through injury, but Boyd is the best fullback in the game. Boyd’s form saw him edge out Greg Inglis for the number one at state and national levels and should see him hold onto the position here. That said, Slater is a specialist fullback and Boyd has tasted tremendous success on the wing in Maroon and is far more suited to the switch than Slater.

My Tip: Darius Boyd


Corey Oates, Darius Boyd, Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai

If Slater is selected at fullback, then Boyd slots into one of the wing positions, that is a given. However, I see Slater being overlooked as it would be brave to move the best number one in the game away from the position, meaning that Oates, Gagai and Holmes will battle it out for the two wing spots. Although Holmes has played at fullback for the majority of the season at the Sharks, he was in the top few wingers last season and has Kangaroo jerseys as proof of that. Oates and Gagai were immense in last season’s series, with Gagai especially providing highlights. Walters is tremendously loyal, however, the talents of Holmes could force his hand here.

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My Tip: Corey Oates, Dane Gagai


Will Chambers, Justin O’Neill, Dane Gagai, Cameron Munster

Greg Inglis is out, meaning for the first time in a long time, there is talk of who plays centre for Queensland. Justin O’Neill will fill in one side of the field, his efforts for the Kangaroos and the Cowboys mean he holds onto his spot. The other spot is somewhat up for debate, especially if Holmes is picked to partner Oates on the wing. Gagai could really upstage his Storm rival in Will Chambers, while Cameron Munster needs to play Origin sooner than later. Its the experience of Chambers that will see him picked over Munster, who hasn’t played enough at centre for mine. Gagai will probably hold onto his wing spot, otherwise, I could really see him pick up the other centre position.

My Tip: Justin O’Neil, Will Chambers


Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk

No discussion needed. We will revisit this next year after Thurston retires from rep footy and Cronk possibly retires. For now, though, the champion halves remain ready for one last Origin assault.


Josh McGuire, Sam Thaiday, Jarrod Wallace, Dylan Napa, Jacob Lillyman, Josh Papalii, Nate Myles

Matt Scott’s injury opens up a selection headache of sorts north of the Tweed. Nate Myles has more than likely played his last Origin series, while fellow incumbent Jacob Lillyman isn’t exactly kicking the door down across the Tasman. If he can successfully return in time from injury, this could be Dylan Napa’s year. He has been well down on his best for the tri-colours but has Origin match winner written all over him. Josh Papalii is likely to be picked to partner him. Although he doesn’t pack into the front row of the scrum for the Raiders, he has played plenty of prop before.

My Tip: Josh Papalii, Dylan Napa

Second Row

Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, Josh Papalii, Gavin Cooper, Coen Hess, Ethan Lowe, Aidan Guerra

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If Papalii is not picked in the front row, he slots straight into the second row. Matt Gillett is an automatic choice as he and Boyd Cordner slug it out for the title of the best second rower in the game right now. I do think Papalii will be picked at 8 or 10 to start the game though, opening up a spot for either Thaiday, Cooper, Hess, Lowe or Guerra in the second row. Although his form has been down, I believe Cooper’s partnership with Thurston will see him picked. Guerra has enjoyed a red-hot start to the season and his experience may see him get the nod. Lowe is probably a little down the pecking order now that he has lost his club run on spot to Hess. Sam Thaiday may get the nod over Cooper, meaning the Cowboy second rower moves to the bench.

My Tip: Matt Gillett, Gavin Cooper


Josh McGuire, Josh Papalli, Coen Hess

Josh McGuire has been in supreme form for the Broncos and has made the number 13 jersey his own. He is capable of playing big minutes and gets through a mountain of work. I think he slots into the same role at Origin level, although he and Papalii are interchangeable really and McGuire could very well move back into the front row if required. Hess is a monster but will have a hard time knocking off two established Origin stars.

My Tip: Josh McGuire


Cameron Smith

Absolutely no discussion here. Best number nine of the modern era.

The Bench

Multiple options

Sam Thaiday is an automatic selection here if he isn’t named over Cooper to start. His experience at Origin level makes him a must pick. Jarrod Wallace has shown exactly the form that justifies his move to the Titans after chasing more run on opportunities. He will have an uphill battle displacing some of the other players, but his form has been such that he’s fast becoming impossible to overlook. I really want to see wrecking ball Coen Hess picked or Origin, but the talk is that Walter will wait another year before selecting him. Aidan Guerra has done the job for the Maroons on multiple occasions and may just edge the rookie here. Michael Morgan has done enough to hold onto his spot, although Cameron Munster is one of many breathing down his neck.

My Tip: Sam Thaiday, Aidan Guerra, Jarrod Wallace, Michael Morgan

Related: Fancy playing coach? Pick your Origin team now!


  1. Pretty good Dan Nichols, but I can’t see Guerra getting picked on his current form. I’d go with Lillyman or Hess over Guerra at the moment.

    Also Oneil has only just come back from injury. I’d want to see him play a few good games before he gets in. If he doesn’t play well then Gagai to centre and Billy or Holmes come onto the wing.

    • Guerra has been pretty ordinary hasn’t he? It looks like he is playing for an early release from his contract. He can’t be serious, surely?

      • Guerra’s hands have let him down a bit this year. I recon Lillyman replaces Guerra. Some are saying Hess but without Matt Scott I’d go for the experience of Lillyman ahead of Hess this year.

    • Yeah, I think a spot for Hess must be found and, on current form Guerra misses out. Lillyman misses out for Hess as a look to the future.

  2. I honestly think Billy will be picked and Boyd will move back to the wing with either Gagai or O’Neill missing out altogether. Slater has shown enough in his games back to get his spot back, with Boyd moving back there when Billy retires.

  3. If I was a QLDer I’d have:
    Slater, Boyd, Chambers, ONeill, Holmes.
    Thurston, Cronk.
    Thiaday, Smith, Napa.
    Cooper, Papalli, McGuire.
    Hess, Gillett, Wallace, Morgan

  4. As a qlder im going with
    Oates, Chambers, Gagai, Holmes
    Thurston, Cronk,
    Wallace, Smith, Napa
    Papalli, Gillett, Mcguire
    Cooper, Thaiday, Hess, Morgan

    • Coopers combination with thurston has him too valuable for the bench though. What would you think of papali to lock cooper to start and mcguire to the bench. Mcguire would bring a bit more off the bench. Either way I was thinking we (the blues) were a shoe in for soo this year with injuries but all teams mentioned so far have shown just how much qld talent has been missing out for years. Still gonna be a good contest.
      Curious about your slater omission though.

      • I am from NSW but I am a queenslander
        Gagai is going great and will be picked for sure
        2 reasons for Slater
        I don’t trust him yet, He has only come back from Origin and haven’t seen enough from him
        You could only really pick Slater at Fullback, But I would rather have Boyd at Fullback

        • GusTheBronc, you’re coming out with some crackers as good as GusThePanther!
          a) your from NSW and your a Queenslander! says it all right there.
          b) If you are a true Queenslander, you trust Slater. end of story.

        • Andy
          I can’t help it, I just have always gone for QLD. Ever since I was a kid. Can’t help it and will never change
          No that is not true. Slater is not the be all and end all. IMO Boyd will do better this series than Slater would. As I previously stated `haven’t seen enough from him’. My opinion on Slater may change if I see enough of Slater to want to have him picked

  5. 1. Darius Boyd
    2. Corey Oates
    3. Will Chambers
    4. Dane Gagai
    5. Valentine Holmes
    6. Jonathan Thurston
    7. Cooper Cronk
    8. Josh Papalii
    9. Cameron Smith
    10. Dylan Napa
    11. Coen Hess
    12. Matt Gillett
    13. Josh McGuire
    14. Ethan Lowe
    15. Sam Thaiday
    16. Luke Bateman
    17. Jarrod Wallace

    • Luke Bateman?
      He doesn’t even start. I haven’t even noticed him play yet.
      He doesn’t command a spot in origin.

        • I think Luke Bateman has potential. In a review Felise Kaufusi would be a wiser prospect. However Bateman could definetly be something in the future, good work ethic, runs hard and is mobile for a solid fella.

    • Coen Hess is origin worthy but at 20 years of age and only a handful of first grade games it is a bit too soon throw him into the SOO cauldron IMO. His time will come and he does look like an exciting prospect for QLD going forward.

      • It shouldn’t matter how old they are, bird played last year and had no troubles and qld will be debuting holmes and Hess this year and nsw Trbojevics, McInnes will probs play so I don’t see an age barrier.

      • In key positions i.e. the spine I tend to agree. Anywhere else I go with the old “if they’re good enough they’re old enough” and Hess is good enough.

        • I have no doubt Coen Hess is good enough. I have already talked him up deluxe on this site already and think that he should be one of the young players at the top of most clubs shopping list!

        • I’d certainly pick Hess ahead of Guerra; to me, he has that “can’t miss” look about him. The only question is whether at his age they think he’s ready. It wouldn’t matter if he was an outside back but lock or 2nd row is a lot different at origin level. Qld don’t tend to take particular notice of club form and stick with players who deliver at origin level so I wouldn’t be surprised if Qld pick Guerra. Hess’ time will come, he’s too good.

    • I don’t think Bateman or Lowe will get a look in this year. For me MacQueen is ahead of both those blokes in the pecking order based on this years form and I cant see him forcing his way in.

  6. Papalii would be wasted in the front row. Play him on an edge and run him at Maloney.

    I don’t think Oates really deserves a spot this year, hasn’t done too much for the Broncs. Would have Holmes ahead of Oates.

    No matter who the Blues pick, they will do well to compete with QLD with two games in QLD this year.

  7. 1. Boyd
    2. Slater
    3. Chambers
    4. Munster
    5. Holmes
    6. Thurston
    7. Cronk
    8. Napa
    9. Smith (c)
    10. Wallace
    11. Thaiday
    12. Gillett
    13. McGuire

    14. Morgan
    15. Cooper
    16. Papalii
    17. Hess

    18. Gagai
    19. Lowe
    20. Sims

  8. 1. Darius Boyd
    2. Corey Oates
    3. Will Chambers
    4. Dane Gagai
    5. Valentine Holmes
    6. Johnathan Thurston
    7. Cooper Cronk
    8. Sam Thaiday
    9. Cameron Smith (c)
    10. Dylan Napa
    11. Gavin Cooper
    12. Matt Gillett
    13. Josh McGuire

    14. Michael Morgan
    15. Coen Hess
    16. Felise Kaufusi
    17. Josh Papalii

  9. 1 Slater
    2 Oates
    3 Chambers
    4 Gagai
    5 Boyd
    6 Thurston
    7 Cronk
    8 Napa
    9 Smith
    10 Wallace
    11 Thaiday
    12 Papalli
    13 Gillette
    14 Morgan
    15 Kaufusi
    16 Hess
    17 Sims

    An old style Qld pack that pack that will be need to put the big boopers of NSW like Boyd, Fifita, Cordner etc
    on their arse…..and the backs to do the rest.
    The McGuire BS is alive an well on this site…anyone seriously talking about him at prop has a short memory and doesn’t watch his game closely. I’ll elaborate further when the inevitable sh*t comes back.

    • Picking Wallace and Napa to start in my opinion is not a good move. Both are inexperienced at this level and would be playing their first Origin. If the Blues forwards get on top of them early Qld could struggle to get the momentum back as you are also bringing inexperience off the bench. Its a good team you’ve picked, hard hitting, but you’ve got 5 forwards making their debut at Origin level. I think that is too many. Agree that Macguire is not a Prop.

  10. 1 Slater
    2 Oates
    3 Chambers
    4 Gagai
    5 Boyd
    6 Thurston
    7 Cronk
    8 Napa
    9 Smith
    10 Wallace
    11 Thaiday
    12 Papalli
    13 Gillette
    14 Morgan
    15 Kaufusi
    16 Hess
    17 Sims

    An old style Qld pack that pack that will be need to put the big boppers of NSW like Boyd, Fifita, Cordner etc
    on their arse…..and the backs to do the rest.
    The McGuire BS is alive an well on this site…anyone seriously talking about him at prop has a short memory and doesn’t watch his game closely. I’ll elaborate further when the inevitable sh*t comes back.

    • You don’t think Hess is still a bit young at 20 yrs old to play in the forwards at origin level coach? I agree about Josh McGuire but he is needed along with Sam ‘3rd man’ Thaiday to do all the “grub” work to win penalties, frustrate the NSW forwards and attempt to intentionally and illegally injure players. Surely?

      • Excoach, I couldn’t agree more. I’m a NSW supporter with McGuire in my NRL Fantasy side, and if Qld. leave him out of origin, well I’ll cope.

        • SSTID, and this has nothing to do with the recent Sam incident, as I think I’ve been pretty fair there, but you’ve got the Burgess brothers in your side.

          I take your point on McGuire, and to a much lesser extent with Thaiday, but you’ve got the Burgess brothers, and in fairness they would look at home at the Bulldogs.

        • “and to a much lesser extent with Thaiday”

          Tell that to Jesse Bromwich’s broken thumb!

          “but you’ve got the Burgess brothers in your side”

          You mean they dirty? Same definitely not (minus one moment of “squirrel grip” madness that has never been repeated). Tom I don’t see as dirty, and neither was George until a couple of recent elbow retaliations (which are NEVER on!) Basically the big Colossus can’t throw a punch it turns out but he needs to get that out of his repertoire or be prepared to spend a long time on the side lines!

        • SSTID, in part, that’s my point. The Thaiday / Bromwich incident was so out of character, and yet George was an angel until he threw his elbow around on several occasions recently.

          None of the Burgess brothers are in the biggest grubs category, but neither could they ever win the “fairness and best”, even if, and Sam has the potential, to meet the best category.

        • You mean they are dirty? Sam definitely not…

          “The Thaiday / Bromwich incident was so out of character”

          Bahahahahahahahaha… You weren’t being ironic? Sorry I thought it was a joke and a good one at that.

          We will agree to disagree on Sam then. Off the field he is a total gentleman and brilliant with the fans. On the field he is one of the toughest in the game and if the clock could be wound back to allow the 1970’s rules he would pretty much be on top of the hill for toughest forward in the game! There are so many rules stopping him from throwing himself into tackles and adopting a more passive style of hold and grab defence that it is stifling his natural aggression a depriving Rugby League fans of a true gladiatorial spectacle! In short Sam is the Malcolm Reilly of the new millennium!

  11. Qld again just look to strong across all positions , NSW need to pick a side ready to punch on only then can they have a chance , they NSW have the brawlers Qld can’t fight

    • I disagree. Queensland have it over NSW in spades at 6, 7 and 9 (which unfortunately are the key positions and determine a lot of games), but other than that NSW at least match Queensland in most areas.

  12. Based on previous history, Qld selectors will stick fairly solid to their team of last year.
    While Slater has been playing well in his come back, I can’t really see them moving Boyd from FB to accommodate him and I don’t think they will be doing themselves a favour either by picking Slater on the wing.
    I would expect to see :
    1. Boyd
    2. Oates
    3. Gagai
    4. O’Neill
    5. Holmes
    6. JT
    7. Cronk
    8. Papaali
    9. Smith
    10. Lillyman
    11. Gillett
    12. Cooper
    13. Grub McGuire

    14. Morgan
    15. Hess
    16. 3rd man Sam
    17. Napa

    • I think if Billy wants to play and thinks he is ready they will pick him. Not necessarily because he will do a better job than Boyd, but Queensland are big on loyalty and will allow him to go out on his own terms. Boyd moves to the wing for this series, and then back to fullback next year. It will be all up to Billy (not you, the other one, lol)

      • you may be correct…but it really should be up to this billy.
        I could pick a team that NSW will beat lol
        Why I say that they wont be doing themselves any favours is for next year and beyond – we know JT will not play next year, its also highly likely that Cronk will join him, Scott, Smith and 3rd man are also very real possibilities to not go around again next year but slightly less likely than Cronk.

  13. NSW pick a pack that love to throw a punch, instruct them to belt Cam, even if one is binned they won’t bin anyone else (BJ grub) proved that, Qld can’t fight, trust me, NSW game plan Cattle Dog ! Lusick , Klem and beg Gal for 1 more series, those 3 would smash any Qld pack with there fists and that’s how you win ,

  14. I hate qld.

    My side is:
    1 Slater 2 Boyd 3 Munster 4 Chambers 5 Holmes 6 Thurston 7 Cronk
    13 McGuire 12 Gillett 11 Papalii 10 Thaiday 9 Smith 8 Wallace
    14 Milford 15 Cooper 16 Hess 17 Napa

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