HOW QUEENSLAND STACK UP FOR STATE OF ORIGIN II
Fullback – Billy Slater
Age: 31 Origins: 26
Shoulder problems may niggle but he is undoubtedly Queensland’s No.1 fullback. Still rock solid under the high ball. Still able to produce his trademark scything runs. Age will not make him weary, it seems.
Winger – Darius Boyd
Age: 27 Origins: 21
Different attitude – same result. A brave Boyd may have addressed well-documented mental demons off the field but the Maroons flyer is still at his devastating best on it judging by his remarkable Origin I return from serious injury. Perfect foil for good friend Greg Inglis.
Centre – Greg Inglis
Age: 28 Origins: 25
Shell of a man in Origin I. Then again three nights in hospital treating tonsillitis in the lead-up will do that. Out of sorts since taking the South Sydney captaincy reins, it seems a matter of time before he returns to his devastating best – which should sound alarm bells for NSW.
Centre – Justin Hodges
Age: 33 Origins: 22
The wily veteran is the heart and soul of the Queensland team. No-one will admit it publicly but Maroons hope to send out Hodges a winner after the Broncos captain revealed he will retire from representative football at season’s end.
Winger – Will Chambers
Age: 27 Origins: 2
May be the man in waiting for Hodges’ centre position but appears to have acclimatised on the wing after producing a ridiculous 260m and two line breaks in just his second Origin clash to help Queensland draw first blood with an 11-10 Origin I victory.
Five-eighth – Johnathan Thurston
Age: 32 Origins: 31
State of Origin’s ironman. Set to play a record 32nd straight game for Queensland. And still the Maroons’ X-factor. Sparked NRL club North Queensland’s stunning club record 10-game winning run. Would be hoping he can maintain his Midas touch in Origin II.
Halfback – Daly Cherry-Evans
Age: 26. Origins: 5
Huge test of mettle for the controversial half. Booed by Queensland fans playing for Manly after his Gold Coast contract backflip, Cherry-Evans remarkably now holds the Maroons’ fate in his hands after stepping up for injured No.7 Cooper Cronk.
Prop – Matt Scott
Age: 29 Origins: 17
World’s best prop. A point he will no doubt like to prove again after Cowboys book end partner James Tamou’s sensational game one start for NSW. Tough as teak.
Hooker – Cameron Smith
Age: 31 Origins: 33
The brains of the outfit. May be a Queensland boy but the Storm skipper will revel playing first Origin game at the MCG in 18 years. Never seems to lose his poise.
Prop – Nate Myles
Age: 29 Origins: 27
The Sea Eagles’ 2016 recruit is ready for a big one after being accused of convincing Cherry-Evans to remain at Manly. Especially after NSW accusations that the prop was responsible for the “cheap shots” in game one.
Second row – Aidan Guerra
Age: 27 Origins: 4
Rock solid forward who appears made for Origin. No frills. No fuss. Repaid selectors’ faith by slipping straight into Origin mode in game one despite limited preparation due to jaw fracture.
Second row – Sam Thaiday
Age: 29 Origins: 22
Don’t be fooled by his fun nature. This loveable larrikin is very serious about inspiring Queensland to yet another series win. And few should doubt him after the off-contract star has not looked back since receiving a pre-season rocket from Broncos coach Wayne Bennett.
Lock – Corey Parker
Age: 33 Origins: 14
Like a fine wine, Parker is getting better with age. Makes metres, offloads, can kick goals. Queensland’s Mr Reliable.
Age: 23 Origins: 1
Limited opportunities off bench on Origin debut in game one but still looms as an ace up Queensland’s sleeve.
Age: 25. Origins: 1
Broncos juggernaut looks set to revel in the Origin conflict after getting taste on debut in game one.
Age: 26 Origins: 10
Rock-solid backrower made for Origin. Sparked Brisbane sealing NRL ladder lead at halfway mark of season.
Age: 31 Origins: 9
One of rugby league’s great battering rams. Country boy at heart.
Age: 23 Origins: 3
Brutal Canberra enforcer.
Age: 24. Origins: Nil
Silky-skilled centre expected to step up when Hodges retires.
Age: 23. Origins: Nil
No nonsense forward who won’t die wondering. Just ask Willie Mason.