Inglis to play fullback in Origin III
Queensland coach Mal Meninga on Friday will officially confirm Billy Slater’s audacious bid to play in Wednesday night’s State of Origin decider is over.
Slater had a secret fitness test in Melbourne on Thursday and is understood to have made an early decision to give the Queensland team plenty of time to make the necessary adjustment.
Greg Inglis will relocate to his club role at fullback with Melbourne’s Dane Nielsen playing just his third Origin game at left centre.
D-Day for the Maroons will also bring bad news for giant South Sydney forward Dave Taylor, who is tipped to lose his place on the bench to bustling Brisbane utility Ben Te’o who provides insurance in the back-row and also the centres.
Te’o, who has been Queensland’s 18th man in the past, will get his maiden Maroons jumper on the bench, with Meninga anxious to match NSW’s aggression with the damaging Brisbane utility.
Meninga will end the guessing games on Friday after a meeting with grieving North Queensland prop Matt Scott who enters camp four days late after attending his mother Dianne’s funeral in Ilfracombe on Wednesday.
Meninga will take Scott’s emotional state into account before settling on his final 17-man squad.
With Taylor paying the price for his disappointing performance in Sydney, Te’o will join a bench which will include Canberra’s Dave Shillington and his Brisbane teammates Ben Hannant and Matt Gillett.
It means Taylor and North Queensland fullback Matt Bowen will be released to play for their NRL clubs at the weekend.
“I’ll make all those decision tomorrow (Friday) after I speak with Matt Scott and get a report on Billy,” Meninga said after the squad again trained in the wet at Coolum.
“It would be a huge loss to lose someone like Billy but we’ve got a great squad here with guys who are willing and very capable of filling the role,” said Queensland’s man-of-the-moment Petero Civoniceva who will play his 33rd and final Origin.
Civoniceva said he had been so focused getting his preparation right for the decider that he hadn’t thought about it being his last Origin game.
“I guess I learned a lot out of Darren (Lockyer’s) last game last year and the way he handled it.
“It was all about our preparation, the focus being on our training.
“If we get that right, if we get a bit of luck on the night and we play really well and get a win, that’s the best way to go out.”
While conceding NSW will come to Brisbane high on confidence after winning in Sydney, Civoniceva said Queensland had not played to its potential in either Origin yet.
“We’re the first to acknowledge NSW were very good in the first two games but we’ve let ourselves down by poor ball security and our execution hasn’t been up to the standard we set in the past,” he said.
“We set standards and we have values within the team that we need to uphold every time we walk out onto the field.
“We’re honest with ourselves and we know we have been down so we have to put in the hard work and make sure we get it right on the night.”© AAP 2013
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