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Renouf: Maroons need razzle-dazzle to get over the Blues

When Kevin Walters picks the Queensland Maroons team in November he will put loyalty at a premium, but he will also look to add the X-factor the team needs.

NSW have shown they have plenty of points in them so the Maroons will need potent attacking weapons who won’t be fazed by State of Origin's intensity.

That is why I have gone with Valentine Holmes and Kyle Feldt on the wings.

Holmes has scored eight tries in five games at Origin level. That is a phenomenal strike rate and he is a natural winger.

Queensland will need his ability to finish, and create something out of nothing. The welcome mat will be straight out for Val after a two-year absence.

I have gone with Feldt to make his Maroons debut. He is a proven big-game performer who plays his best in NRL finals and games that count, so Origin will be right up his alley.

I really love the way he can win you a game with something freakish, and he has taken the unforced errors out of his play.

The centre position is an issue for Queensland. We have seen some good ones retire in recent years with Justin Hodges, Greg Inglis and Will Chambers now out of the equation.

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I spoke to Kevin this week and I told him I was tempted to go with David Fifita as one centre, and he grinned and reminded me I had suggested something similar last year.

Fifita is so mobile and has great footwork. He would make the Blues think twice, but there are not a heap of powerful back-rowers in the Maroons system right now and he will be needed there.

In the end I have opted for Michael Morgan and Dane Gagai. I know Gagai has done extremely well for Queensland on the wing but he has done well in the centres.

He is one of those players, like Dale Shearer was in the past, that wherever you put him for Queensland you know he will play the game of his life.

Morgan is one of Kevin’s favourite players and he will try to find a spot for him if he is fit and firing when he returns from injury later in the season. I don’t think Moses Mbye is suited to centre in Origin football so I have gone with Morgan just based on his previous success in the role.

The one, six and seven pick themselves with Kalyn Ponga, Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans certainties.

Ponga has shown glimpses of what he can do and this series is one where I am expecting him to take his game to the next level. Cherry-Evans has led the side with real class. It is his team now.

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I notice Munster won the FOGS Peter Jackson  Memorial Award last year, which was fitting because he leaves everything out there on the field and epitomises the Queensland spirit that Jacko showed.

I was sitting with Choppy Close when Cameron made his Origin debut and he did so many freakish things. At the end of the game Choppy turned to me and said ‘I really like this kid’.

Choppy played with the same passion. Munster is the key man for Queensland in my book. He has that unshakeable belief and he hates losing.

Up front is a straightforward choice. Josh Papalii was one of Queensland’s best last year, and Jai Arrow comes straight in to the side after he was really missed in the last two games of the 2019 series.

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At hooker I am going with three-time premiership winner Jake Friend. He was going to be there last year but he got injured. Jake was the next hooker in line behind Cameron Smith for years and deserves his chance. He has the uncompromising toughness that is so suited to Origin.

Fifita and Felise Kaufusi are definites in the back row. In Fifita you have an explosive match winner and Kaufusi can run a good line but has also added a real toughness and physicality to his game in recent years. Lock will be old warhorse Josh McGuire.

I reckon Harry Grant will be the 18th man and will go close to getting the bench utility spot. He is the future for Queensland.

He is right up there in the Dally M points and playing well enough for Wests Tigers to get selected.

Ben Hunt, however, was the Ron McAuliffe Medal winner from last year and he is the perfect utility who can play in the halves as well. Kevvie’s loyalty will prevail here although Grant is mature enough to do the job.

Christian Welch really impresses me each time he plays and should get one big bopper bench spot with Joe Ofahengaue the other.

Kevin has a soft spot for Joe and he will be in his ear about improving his game when he comes back from suspension for the Broncos. He hasn’t been at his best but a rocket is all he needs.

Should David Fifita stay with Broncos or sign with Titans?

Ethan Lowe had one of the best Maroons debuts you could wish for last year and I don’t think that will be forgotten by the selectors. He stamped himself as an Origin player so he should get a bench spot. I have him just edging out Tim Glasby.

I just don’t think the Maroons will make too many changes to the side that got them within a whisker of winning last year’s series.

They do need some razzle dazzle as well though, which is why I have gone with a backline with plenty of tries in it.


The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.

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