McCullough, Arrow to make debuts for Maroons, Scott snubbed

McCullough, Arrow to make debuts for Maroons, Scott snubbed

Andrew McCullough is set to be unveiled as the new Queensland Maroons hooker with the Brisbane Broncos star called into the squad to face NSW in the State of Origin series opener.

Despite fears the Broncos may have no representatives in the Queensland side for the first time since the club's inception in 1988, Josh McGuire is set to join McCullough in an extended squad.

The QRL has yet to confirm the squad, which will be formally named at the XXXX Brewery in Brisbane on Monday morning.

McCullough takes over from Maroons legend Cameron Smith in the No.9 jersey, who announced his retirement from representative football earlier this month.

He was competing with a couple of other long-time understudies to Smith in Roosters rake Jake Friend and North Queensland hooker Jake Granville for the Queensland dummy-half role.

McGuire will have to pass a fitness test on his ankle injury.

It is believed North Queensland prop Matt Scott will not be selected.

Scott, who was facing a one-match suspension for a shoulder charge on Young Tonumaipea in the 7-6 loss to the Storm on Friday night, has been the Maroons best prop of the last decade.

He has played 22 Origin games for Queensland and despite missing last year's series with a knee injury had returned to his best in recent weeks.

So much so that Scott received the Cowboys coaches' man of the match for his performance against the Storm on the weekend where he asserted himself early with some powerful surges and big hits.

"I am very surprised and disappointed for him to be honest if that is the case," assistant coach Todd Payten told NRL.com when being informed of Scott's expected omission.

"We had chats amongst the coaching group [at the Cowboys] and looked at what was available and I don't think Queensland have a lot of depth in that front-row rotation so we expected Thumper [Scott] to be playing.

"By his own admission it has taken him a while to get back to his best but I thought his last three weeks had been outstanding and he has really led from the front. He got our man of the match from the coaches on the weekend and I'm sure he got the players' player.

"He's been really aggressive, tried to change the momentum of games and while taking the ball forward has worked really hard defensively."

Payten is a New South Welshman and said that the Cowboys and Blues coach Brad Fittler would be the only ones to benefit from Scott's absence.

"I guess [Fittler] will be relieved because Thumper is definitely a leader in that Queensland pack and with all the experience that has gone out of that side in the last six months with retirements I think there is a leadership void," Payten said.

"Thumper is a very smart footballer. He talks well, he leads on the training paddock and he leads by example on the field."

Witness Australia's greatest sporting rivalry when Origin comes to the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Wednesday, June 6. Tickets available at NRL.com/tickets.