Already considered one of the NRL’s most unlucky, Gavin Cooper’s State of Origin fortunes don’t look like improving soon despite Sydney Roosters back-rower Aidan Guerra’s poor form.
Queensland selector Allan Smith admits Cooper will remain in the queue along with fellow Cowboys back-rower Ethan Lowe when they finalise June 22’s Origin II team on Monday.
Smith said only injuries would pave the way for Cooper’s maiden Origin due to the selectors’ loyalty to incumbent bench forward Guerra.
“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” Smith told AAP when asked about Queensland’s Origin II side.
“Our biggest issue is how everyone pulls up.”
Cowboys coach Paul Green revealed this year he felt sorry for Cooper every time a representative team was named due to the form back-rower’s inability to crack a squad.
That long wait will continue according to Smith despite Guerra again failing to shine in a woeful Roosters outfit.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson questioned his players’ commitment after they were humiliated 46-0 by Melbourne on Saturday night.
Guerra managed just 60 metres from eight runs in 80 minutes.
In contrast, Cooper has again been the perfect foil on the left edge for Cowboys and Queensland playmaker Johnathan Thurston this year.
Cooper came closest to an Origin debut when he remained in camp for Origin I as 19th man earlier this month.
“For sure he’s in the mix. His combination with JT (Thurston) is important,” Smith said of Cooper.
“A couple from North Queensland could consider themselves unlucky – Ethan Lowe is in that category as well.
“If anything happens, we have players of that calibre waiting in the wings.”
Smith said they would sweat on how Maroons incumbents Thurston, Michael Morgan, Matt Scott and Justin O’Neill back up from Monday night’s Cronulla-North Queensland clash.
Selectors are also set to run the rule over Cronulla fullback Ben Barba as they assess their depth.
The Maroons must look again at their back-up options after Chris McQueen (head knock) joined Daly Cherry-Evans (ankle) on the sidelines ahead of Origin II in Brisbane.
McQueen lasted just four minutes before coming off with concussion in Gold Coast’s 22-12 loss to Parramatta in Darwin on Saturday.
“Discussing shadow roles will take up most of our time,” Smith said.
Smith said Melbourne halfback Cooper Cronk and Brisbane fullback Darius Boyd were firing at the right time as Queensland looked to secure their 10th series win in 11 years in Origin II next week.
Cronk has not looked back since overcoming an ankle injury to play Origin I, scoring two tries in Melbourne’s romp over the Roosters.
Wayne Bennett believed Boyd was “in the Darren Lockyer mould” after his hat-trick inspired Brisbane’s 26-18 win over Canberra on Thursday night.
Likely Queensland team: Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Greg Inglis, Justin O’Neill, Dane Gagai, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Nate Myles, Matt Gillett, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange: Michael Morgan, Josh McGuire, Aidan Guerra, Josh Papalii.