Brisbane’s Darius Boyd has won the race for the Maroons No.1 spot for the State of Origin series opener, Queensland coach Kevin Walters revealed.
With Billy Slater rubbed out for the rest of the year with a career-threatening shoulder injury, Boyd has beaten South Sydney superstar Greg Inglis to the coveted fullback position.
Boyd was used at the back by Australian coach Mal Meninga during the trans-Tasman Test earlier in the month while Inglis was last week moved by the Rabbitohs to five-eighth.
Walters said Boyd locked down the custodian role after his performance for the Kangaroos in their 16-0 win over the Kiwis in Newcastle.
“Darius is the obvious choice,” Walters said on Fox Sports on Wednesday.
“Greg has played a bit of fullback too but just from the Test the other night, obviously they’ve got to get through this weekend’s game, but you’d be silly not to put Darius there.”
Boyd’s selection at fullback is also set to benefit Brisbane teammate Corey Oates, who is firming to make his Origin debut on the wing ahead of North Queensland pair Justin O’Neill and Kyle Feldt.
Since following coach Wayne Bennett back to Brisbane, Boyd has been a standout for Brisbane at fullback with his ball-playing ability adding an extra dimension to their attack.
“I just think the energy that he brings, he’s a very safe player,” Walters said.
“It’s rare that you see Darius come up with errors, he gets the simple plays right. And he’s ultra professional.
“I remember Darius coming into the Broncos straight out of school as a 17-year-old kid and it’s great to see how far he’s developed over that period.”