For many years now the Queensland side has picked itself. You could almost copy and paste the 17 from game one to game three for many years, although 2018 will be different.
The Maroons, for the first time in over a decade will be forced into wholesale changes thanks to the rep retirements of names such as Thurston, Cronk and now captain and automatic pick Cameron Smith.
That said, there are still a few Maroon legends who are absolute certainties to be picked. We take a look at those names now.
Another automatic selection if fit. There were talks that Slater would step aside while the likes of Ponga are pushing hard, but there is no chance the legendary number one is overlooked. Despite that one less than stellar World Cup performance, Slater has been a superstar at rep level. Slater is another who has routinely broken blue hearts for many years now. His ball playing skills and speed haven’t faded in his advanced years. Freak.
The Destroyer. No ‘Queensland’ star has ever caused the uproar of the legendary Inglis. Born and raised in New South Wales, Inglis has been THE chief destroyer for almost a decade. That one still hurts. The Blues have literally formed game plans around stopping the weapon out wide. They’ve rarely succeeded. Inglis missed the series last year due to injury but has come back with a point to prove. Aitken, Turbo or young Latrell have a busy night ahead of them come Origin one.
Wallace will be the first player picked up front after injuries to McGuire and Gillett. He is an Origin level player and will become a real pack leader in the absence of the others. For the record, he’ll be picked even if all of QLD’s forwards are fit for selection. Has a great series last year after being selected, and won’t let anyone down this year either. He now has his club future sorted after signing a big deal for the Titans. All good signs for this Origin certainty.
If Wallace is the first forward picked then Hess is the second. He’s edged out fellow Cowboy Gavin Cooper as the go-to wide-running back rower. He is an absolute monster in every sense of the word and probably in the top three scariest players to potentially tackle in the game right now. The Cowboys have under-delivered in a huge way but it hasn’t been due to a loss of form by their star second rower.
Kevin Walters has announced Munster will be the number six a little while back. I haven’t seen anything that will change that. There is a slight chance he may be moved to the centres to allow a Morgan and Hunt halves combination but I can’t see anyone upstaging the supremely talented Munster for the five-eighth spot.
With Munster and Hunt looking a likely halves combination, Morgan may be shifted out wide or play off the bench. For the record, I still think he’ll partner Munster in the run on side but I wouldn’t be shocked to see him play from the interchange bench. He’s the game’s ultimate utility player and is just as good at centre, fullback or in the halves. The ultimate impact player.
The Almost Certainties
The reason Chambers isn’t in the certainty section is the chance the Maroons bump Munster, Morgan or even Boyd into the centres. That said, I can’t see them overlooking the always reliable Chambers in his preferred centre position. He will surely partner Inglis with either Oates, Holmes or Gagai outside of him. He’s another Origin player. No one can get under an opponent’s skin like the Storm star. Just ask every Sharks fan or player.