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Renouf's Maroons side: I'd bring in young guns and hard heads

It is time for an injection of youth but also a recall for two of Queensland's best modern forwards for this year's State of Origin series.

My 17-man Maroons squad has veteran forwards Matt Scott and Matt Gillett in it and hands debuts to Brisbane tyro David Fifita and giant Storm prop Christian Welch.

Losing one series is not the end of the world for the Maroons but to challenge this strong NSW side, Queensland need leadership and a breath of fresh air.

Scott isn't the form prop of the NRL by any means but he is a guy Kevin Walters can hand a jersey and just say "give us your best and lead the forwards in one final campaign".

He understands what it takes to win in this arena.

Scott was integral to Queensland's decade of dominance and has played 22 games for the Maroons with distinction. He is a leader and one of the last links with that great Queensland side.

Gillett is another. He played 18 games straight for Queensland before his neck injury last year and should be recalled.

I was saddened to learn Roosters hooker Jake Friend is out of action for three months with a biceps injury. He was going to be my starting hooker for the Maroons.

Friend is one of those unlucky players who was stuck behind Cameron Smith for a decade. He has earned an Origin jersey and his performance on Anzac Day against the Dragons was the kind of Origin-like performance you want from a hooker.

He set up tries, kicked a 40/20, led from the front and defended like a demon. You need that defensive clout early in an Origin game and Friend would have edged out Andrew McCullough in my side. Macca, great guy and outstanding player that he is, didn't do enough to keep Friend out last year in my book.

I had Ben Hunt as the bench utility but with Friend out I would start him at hooker where he provides zip and creativity. He is a tough bugger and will not let the Maroons down defensively.

Greg Inglis is a massive loss for the game and for Queensland. He is an icon and was a real figurehead leading the Maroons out last year, like Arthur Beetson, Wally Lewis, Darren Lockyer and Cameron Smith before him.

He made that left centre position his own and is one of the last links to that great Maroons dynasty side after the retirements of Smith, Cooper Cronk, Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston.

Kevvie Walters has a dilemma with the captaincy but he has some quality candidates to take Queensland into the next era

I reckon Daly Cherry-Evans is the logical choice. He is leading Manly really well and has a lot of experience as a captain. He is playing some great footy and I was impressed with how he led the Queensland team around in game three last year.

He is on track to be the No.7 if he keeps this form up and it is best if you can have a captain that plays in the spine.

I have picked Michael Morgan in the centres, a position where he has played well for Queensland. Morgan is in his first season as Cowboys skipper and I think his time will come to lead the Maroons.

He is versatile and I reckon Kevvie will pick his best 17 players and find spots for them.

Centre isn't Morgan's preferred spot but we often see in rep footy how players adapt.

Match Highlights: Roosters v Dragons

There have been calls to make Cameron Munster captain but he is yet to skipper a club side and I reckon you just let him do his thing at five-eighth without those pressures.

I still think Corey Oates and Dane Gagai are the best wingers available for the Maroons and with Inglis retired I am sticking with Will Chambers in the centres. He has been strong for Melbourne and while last year's Origin series was not his best he is a class act. He's been playing on the left side for the Storm so he may not get another crack marking Latrell Mitchell, but either way I am confident he will do the job.

Billy Slater will leave another gaping hole but Kalyn Ponga is a readymade replacement. Billy basically anointed him as his successor and he is playing well back in the custodian's role for a battling Newcastle outfit.

Josh Papalii, Josh McGuire and Felise Kaufusi pick themselves in the starting pack.

The bench forward rotation is a tough one. Dylan Napa would have been there but he's racing the clock to be ready after his syndesmosis injury. I'm sure he will play a part in the series at some stage.

Tim Glasby, Jarrod Wallace and Coen Hess will all be in the mix but I have gone with David Fifita, Jai Arrow, Christian Welch and Joe Ofahengaue.

Arrow did well last year and has been in form for the Titans.

I know Kevvie is a big fan of Ofahengaue and he was keen to get him in the side last year. He has that toughness and reliability you need in Origin. Joe can really make a stronger case with some big games for Brisbane in the next month.

Match Highlights: Storm v Warriors

Welch has really impressed me for the Storm. He is that big body the Maroons need. NSW have a big and robust pack and Welch comes from that successful Melbourne system. You just know he will do his job.

Some may consider it a surprise but 19-year-old Fifita will add an extra dimension off the bench. He is tough, a huge physical presence and has a game sense that really impresses me.

He is the kind of player who with one offload or a smart line run could break an Origin game open. He is going to be a Maroons player for a decade. If you're good enough you are old enough and Fifita fits that bill.

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