Cooper Cronk has been named to return for the State of Origin decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Queensland team for Origin decider

Daly Cherry-Evans has paid the price for a lacklustre display in Origin II with the headline halfback dumped from Queensland's squad ahead of next Wednesday's decider at Suncorp Stadium.

Cherry-Evans makes way for Cooper Cronk, who has made a rapid recovery from a knee injury he suffered playing for the Storm earlier this month.

Michael Morgan retains his place on Queensland's bench, with Raiders prop Josh Papalii earning an Origin recall at the expense of the injured Josh McGuire.

Newcastle centre Dane Gagai is poised to make his Origin debut on the wing, joining veteran Justin Hodges on the right side of attack, while Will Chambers will move to the centres.

As expected, Greg Inglis had been named at fullback to replace Billy Slater who is out for the season with a shoulder injury.

However, Cherry-Evans' omission was the main talking point coming out of the Maroons' team announcement, with Morgan's versatility the main drawcard for his selection according to Maroons coach Mal Meninga. 

"It was a tough decision – the selectors have been musing over the past 10 days since Origin II," Meninga said.

"We felt at this point being a decider Michael was the best option because he plays more positions – it's as simple as that.

"Billy [Slater] is out so we're down an outside back so Michael can certainly fill in at fullback there to bring Greg [Inglis] back in the centres.

"It's not a decision we've liked to make, but I think we've made the right one. Daly was obviously disappointed which is understandable but we thought Michael was the best option."

Cronk, meanwhile, has been declared fit to play in the July 8 decider just over a month since he suffered a low-grade meniscus tear in his right knee against the Panthers on June 6.

The initial diagnosis had the Storm halfback on the sideline for three to four weeks and in severe doubt for Origin III, but the 31-year-old has once again demonstrated his durability and uncanny knack for rapid recovery from injury.

Cronk returned three weeks ahead of schedule from a broken arm suffered in Origin I last year to play for Queensland in the 2014 dead rubber.

Meninga was in no doubt one of his key playmakers would be fit for the Maroons despite not playing at club level beforehand.

"Cooper is fit and healthy – he's right to go. He's a valuable member of our footy team and is a welcome addition to the side," he said.

"Yes he hasn't played for a number of weeks, but we all know how Cooper prepares for a game and how much he looks after himself and how fit he is.

"He'll handle the decider really well and he's experience is paramount for us."

The Maroons coach also touched on the selection of Papalii, who will play his fourth Origin match in place of Brisbane's Josh McGuire.

McGuire suffered a season-ending Achilles injury last Friday against the Knights, with Queensland selectors opting for Papalii's experience over that of Roosters youngster Dylan Napa.

"We felt that Josh's experience going into a decider at Suncorp Stadium was the best option for the team. He's been there and done that before so he understands what Origin is about," he said.

"Josh is happy to be back in the side and I think he'll play very well for us. He's got a point to prove because he didn’t make the first two games."

 

Queensland team for Origin III

1. Greg Inglis
2. Darius Boyd
3. Will Chambers
4. Justin Hodges
5. Dane Gagai
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Matt Scott
9. Cam Smith (c)
10. Nate Myles
11. Aiden Guerra
12. Sam Thaiday
13. Corey Parker 
Interchange: 
14. Michael Morgan
15. Josh Papalii
16. Matt Gillett
17. Jake Lillyman
18. Edrick Lee