If it ain’t broke … fix it?
Two games into his debut series at the Queensland helm, coach Kevin Walters has tinkered with the all conquering Maroons’ winning formula by naming an all-forwards bench for next week’s State of Origin III in Sydney.
Walters said using a interchange utility had been a “game changer” for Queensland, winner of 10 of the last 11 Origin series.
But he raised eyebrows on Monday when he replaced bench utility Michael Morgan (knee) with recovering veteran prop Nate Myles for July 13’s dead rubber.
Manly’s Myles is still battling a knee injury that ruled him out of game two but Walters refused to name an extended squad, sticking with a 17 that also included debutant Gavin Cooper.
North Queensland backrower Cooper will make his Origin debut after replacing injured Canberra wrecking ball Josh Papalii (knee, shoulder).
Walters admitted using a bench utility like Morgan had been a key to their success.
Predecessor Mal Meninga discovered it, using the likes of game breakers Cooper Cronk and Daly Cherry-Evans on the bench in the past before Morgan’s injection last year.
But Walters believed it was time for a tweak after sealing his debut Origin series win in two games.
“Michael Morgan’s selection (as bench utility) was a game changer,” he said.
“Mal started it a few years ago.
“We will just adjust it slightly.
“I don’t think it (all forwards bench) is a risk, particularly in Sydney.
“I think we need to have that forward power to combat what NSW have got because it’s been clear the way they are trying to play and I don’t think game three will be any different.”
Walters said he would consider naming a shadow bench utility this week as a “Plan B”, with Canterbury’s Moses Mbye and Manly’s Daly Cherry-Evans the leading candidates.
But Walters was confident of unleashing a beefed up bench despite the question mark over Myles.
“If we thought it was a risk we wouldn’t have picked him,” Walters said.
“We have a lot of trust in Nate’s honesty.
“I don’t think Nate’s foolish enough to run out there if he’s not fit.”
Myles may yet start, shifting Origin II frontrower Josh McGuire to the bench.
Walters said Maroons big men McGuire, Aidan Guerra and the retiring Corey Parker already provided ample utility value.
Walters has the chance to mark his first year at the Queensland helm with something Meninga could only do once during his dominant reign – a clean sweep.
“Queensland teams have only done it four times in 36 years,” Walters said.
“The last time this team did it was 2010.
“That’s a long time in rugby league so this is a good opportunity for them.
“I don’t like losing and neither do the players – we want to give this (whitewash) our best shot.”