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Friday, 24 May 2019

Predicted QLD Maroons Team for State of Origin 1 2019

Who will Kevin Walters pick for Game 1 2019?
2019 State of Origin Series
By W D Nicolson - May 24, 2019


Everyone loves a predicted Origin team just before the actual teams get picked... so after swinging at the fences for Brad Fittler's NSW team already, here is the best guess at the 17 Cane Toads that Kevin Walters will pick for QLD in their first series minus the entire big five.

Yep that's right, no Cameron Smith (well... we think), no Johnathan Thurston, no Billy Slater, no Cooper Cronk and no Greg Inglis for Queensland when they run onto Suncorp Stadium for Game 1 on June 5.

Welcome to life for the last decade and a bit as a NSW fan Queenslanders.

There has been one injury in the last 24 hours that could throw a spanner into the works for the QLD bench that is predicted below but I've listed the alternatives to Jai Arrow in the analysis.
Analysis:
The QLD Backline... 
The biggest question mark is over Daly Cherry-Evans and his ankle... he will not play Friday night v the Gold Coast but is expected to declare himself fit for Origin 1. His availability means that Ben Hunt will play hooker and Michael Morgan will be asked to fill the left centre spot.
Kalyn Ponga is the ready made replacement for the retired Slater, with Corey Oates, Will Chambers and Dane Gagai returning as incumbents in the three-quarter line - Gagai shifting back to the wing with Valentine Holmes signing with the NY Jets.
Cameron Munster is unchallenged as the five-eighth and will be QLD's go-to guy alongside Ponga.
The backline pretty much picks itself if DCE is fit, and I'd expect Justin O'Neill or Edrick Lee to get the 18th man gig as cover for Cherry-Evans with Morgan moving back to halfback if DCE is ruled out.

The QLD Forwards... 
Hunt will get the gig at hooker... he won't be happy but that's how he plays in this team with the incumbent Andrew McCullough and Jake Friend out injured. He won't have to play 80 minutes - in fact he could end up starting off the bench with Josh McGuire doing the opening 15-20 minutes at 9. But there simply is not another viable option with Reed Mahoney nowhere near seasoned enough for the gig and Jake Granville just not the player he was 3-4 years ago.
Up front Matt Scott will get the call to stiffen up QLD's front row and boost their experience stocks which Walters is big on. His arrival means Tim Glasby will be jettisoned after 3 wins in 3 Origins.
Josh Papalii and Jai Arrow are certainties - Arrow is dealing with a fresh quad/hip injury that rules him out of this weekend but he said he'll be right for Origin 1 - with Papalii the starter and Arrow to come off the bench. Jarrod Wallace will also miss out due to some very ordinary form to open the season and his constant ill-discipline is not something Walters can afford to carry. Dylan Napa hasn't been in irresistible form for Canterbury but he was the starting prop in Origin 1 and 2 last year and he will push Wallace out of the prop rotation.
Moving into the backrow - Felise Kaufusi gets in on reputation rather than 2019 form on the right, and Matt Gillett will return to the lineup - and possibly captain the team - on the left edge replacing the unlucky Gavin Cooper. They are both certainties. As is McGuire who will either start at lock (or hooker) or be picked on the bench with Arrow perhaps preferred at starting lock. Coen Hess hasn't shown the NRL what he can do this year but I just don't see Walters cutting the cord on one of his best from the last two series. He'll make the bench ahead of Cooper if QLD only carry three edge backrowers in their 17.
That leaves just the utility spot on the bench.
Anthony Milford is a favourite of Walters and although Hunt will not expected to play 80 at hooker that doesn't mean Walters will go with a hooker in the utility role. Michael Morgan can shift to the middle if need be and getting someone with Milford's speed and skill on the field with the game in the balance is just what QLD might need. 

This means QLD are likely to leave David Fifita and Joe Ofahengaue out - despite a push for both of them from the QLD old boys. If Arrow is withdrawn I think it comes down to the above two and maybe Cooper if Walters plays it safe. At this stage I think it's hard to find a spot for Glasby or Wallace.

So 6 changes in all for QLD - Slater has retired (Inglis didn't play Game 3 last year), Holmes has jumped ship to the NY Jets, Cooper, Wallace and Glasby will be victims of the returning Gillett and Scott and the need for a utility to cover Hunt at hooker and McCullough is missing through injury.

In comes Ponga at fullback, Morgan at centre, Scott at prop, Gillett in the second row and Milford and Napa onto the bench.

There is a sense of safeness in this predicted QLD lineup... if they lose Game 1 one wonders what Kevin Walters might do... or be asked to do by the QLD selectors who aren't used to this losing thing.

Agree/Disagree with this predicted QLD team?

Let us know in the comments below or via @NRLTweet on Twitter

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