We Choose: Queensland Origin Team
NRL.com has taken up the role of Queensland selector and run with it. After a long process of devising what would work best for the Maroons in their bid to extend their streak to nine straight series wins, this is who we came up with for the first State of Origin game at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday May 28.
1. Billy Slater
The 2010 Wally Lewis medallist is an obvious choice at fullback despite Greg Inglis making a claim for the spot in recent weeks. Has scored 11 tries in the Origin arena and has managed seven line breaks and six try assists for the Melbourne Storm in the NRL this season.
2. Darius Boyd
Regardless of what you think of his club form, Boyd always lifts in the Origin arena. He has been the main beneficiary of having Greg Inglis inside him for the past six years – his 12 tries for Queensland has him at equal-second on the Maroons' try-scorers list.
3. Greg Inglis
While he is more accustomed to playing fullback for the Rabbitohs, Inglis is that good he can play just as well in the centres for his state and country. Inglis has scored 15 tries from 20 Origins leaving him on top of the all-time try-scorers for Queensland.
4. Justin Hodges
Hodges has worked extremely hard to get back from an Achilles injury for the Broncos. A mainstay in the Queensland side for several years, the centre has conjured five try-assists in five games for the Broncos this year.
5. Brent Tate
Leading the Cowboys brigade with the equal-most tries for his team this season with four, Tate will add to his 21 Origins in 2014 after being talked out of retiring from representative football.
6. Johnathan Thurston
With four Man of the Match awards for Queensland, Thurston will be one of the first men picked for his state until the day he retires. Has set up 11 tries for the Cowboys this season and scored four of his own.
7. Cooper Cronk
Will we see every sinew in his body align once again, as it did when he kicked that series-winning field goal? Time will tell with Cronk being the obvious choice for the No. 7 jumper. Not to be outdone by his Queensland and Australian halves partner, Cronk has accrued 12 try assists for the Storm in 2014.
8. Matthew Scott
If there were any doubts over Matthew Scott's ability to spearhead forward momentum – which there aren't – then his 18 runs for a massive 238 metres in Round 9 against the Broncos should have silenced any critics.
9. Cameron Smith
Captain Cameron will line up for his 31st cap to go equal-fourth with Wally Lewis on the all-time appearances list for Queensland. Smith has been averaging 42 tackles for his Melbourne team per game in 2014 and will remain one of the more important men for the Queenslanders.
10. Nate Myles
It appears Myles has grown a beard to soften the blow in case any punches are thrown his way this series. Regardless, Myles has been phenomenal for the Titans this season – averaging 40.9 tackles and 108.2 metres per game.
11. Sam Thaiday
Thaiday has been battling a calf injury of late but you can bet your bottom dollar he will be wearing that No. 11 jumper when May 28th rolls around. When he has played he has done so with much impact making 34.7 tackles on average for the Broncos.
12. Matt Gillett
A recent Kangaroos debutant, Gillett has been in outstanding form this season for the Broncos. His five tries, five line breaks and 115.1 metres per game should be enough to see him start for the Maroons.
13. Corey Parker
Like a fine wine Corey Parker is getting better with age. While he has been accustomed to playing in the front row for the Broncos this season, Parker is no stranger to locking the scrum. Tops the NRL offload count with 28 – five more than any other player.
14. Daly Cherry-Evans
While Australian coach Tim Sheens sees him as a 10-minute prospect for the Kangaroos, Mal Meninga doesn't mind throwing the Manly halfback to the wolves in the forward pack – a handy option off the bench for the Maroons with six try assists to his name this season.
15. Jacob Lillyman
Although the Queensland team generally sticks solid, the form of Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman is too hard to ignore. Lillyman has averaged 138.3 metres (including four games of the bench) in the NRL this season.
16. Josh McGuire
With the likes of Te'o and Papalii struggling to maintain any form this season for their respective sides, Brisbane prop Josh McGuire gets the nod in our side ahead of the incumbents. With 37.25 tackles and 120.1 metres per game to his name, McGuire wouldn't look out of place in a Maroon jumper.
17. Chris McQueen
Has been well below form this year for the Rabbitohs but has been building his way back after an early-season ankle injury. McQueen has averaged 76.9 metres per game in a limited role for Souths in the early stages of the season.