Renouf: No room for Boyd in my Maroons side
I'm a big fan of Darius Boyd but I can't find room for him in my Queensland Maroons side for game one of the Origin series in Melbourne.
Darius still isn't 100 per cent even though he had one of his best games of the year against the Warriors, but he needs to repeat that kind of performance on a regular basis.
I don't have him in my Maroons team because I have Billy Slater at fullback. On the left wing, I have Valentine Holmes who played there last year and did so well with four tries in two games.
This is the Queensland team I would name if I had to pick the side right now and while I do hope Darius proves me wrong, he is still not stretching out and that hamstring seems to be still pestering him.
I know Darius has been a huge success when he's played outside Greg Inglis and it is a big call to leave him out, but it is also a big call to play someone who has a question mark over his hamstring on the wing.
Any good winger with nous would score tries outside GI. Holmes scored 11 tries in two games for Australia in the World Cup and I know it was against so-called minnows, but we've all played minnows and you still have to get yourself in position. Holmes sniffs out tries and he has pace to burn. He is a natural winger.
Ben Hunt has got to be the No.7 because he is the form halfback in the Telstra Premiership. His form is outstripping everyone. He's been in the team before, even though it was as a utility.
Kevin Walters likes Ben Hunt as a half. His kicking game has improved out of sight. Hunt relies a lot on confidence and he must be full of it at the moment. He has that St George Illawarra side firing and if I was a Queensland selector and coach I'd have in the team already.
Cameron Munster should stay at five-eighth because he proved last year that he is an Origin player. His debut for Queensland last year was one of the best I've seen in a Maroons jersey.
The spine is helped by having club teammates Slater, Munster and Cameron Smith together.
I know Michael Morgan has done everything asked of him and more for the Maroons and Kangaroos but he is the perfect Origin utility and he is still in my side as No.14 because he can play anywhere in the backline, apart from wing, and he's tough enough to play lock or second row with his size.
He's played fullback for the Cowboys and centre in Origin. If a player goes down you want someone like him to come on and get the ball in his hands.
With JT not there, that is another reason I would overlook Morgan as a starting half.
I have a question over Gavin Cooper in the second row with Thurston not there to throw him those great balls but I am sticking with him because at this stage I reckon he is still the best option and he is the incumbent.
That brings me to Felise Kaufusi. He's played for Australia and is a tough forward who has made a home on the right edge for the Melbourne Storm. He must come into the side and play on the edge with Matt Gillett out of the picture.
I'm happy to start with Matt Scott and Jarrod Wallace in the front row. Scott is tried and true and Wallace did so well when he came into the team last year.
Josh Papalii has always done the job for Queensland but his club form is not up to scratch so I am leaving him out.
I am a big fan of Jai Arrow. He is one of the form middle forwards in the competition and he's young and enthusiastic. When he was off the field for the Titans on the weekend they missed him big time and while it is a big rise for him I reckon he will thrive in the Holden State of Origin arena.
I'm retaining Coen Hess on the bench and you've got to keep Dylan Napa in the mix. He's a tough forward you want around.
I know Kevin Walters will be loyal to the players that did the job last year but he has also shown he is not afraid to make changes when needed.
By bringing in Arrow and Kaufusi and showing faith in guys like Scott and Cooper he can balance that need to keep introducing young blood and sticking with blokes who have done the job for Queensland so well.
Steve Renouf's Queensland team
1. Billy Slater
2. Valentine Holmes
3. Greg Inglis
4. Will Chambers
5. Dane Gagai
6. Cameron Munster
7. Ben Hunt
8. Matt Scott
9. Cameron Smith
10. Jarrod Wallace
11. Gavin Cooper
12. Felise Kaufusi
13. Josh McGuire
14. Michael Morgan
15. Coen Hess
16. Jai Arrow
17. Dylan Napa
Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket ground on Wednesday June 6. Tickets available at NRL.com/tickets