Queensland Maroons team for 2014 State of Origin Game 1: Expert reaction

Chris Chard Columnist

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    Well it’s that time of year again. After clinching a record eighth successive State of Origin series victory last year, consistency will again be the key for Queensland.

    Coach Mal Meninga has released a squad for Game 1 that remains relatively unchanged from last season.

    Here’s how the team will line-up in Brisbane.

    More Origin Coverage:
    >> NSW Blues team for Origin 1 – Expert reaction
    >> Can NSW win with this team?
    >> Full State of Origin Teams and news

    1. Billy Slater
    Despite calls this season for Slater to make way at the back for Greg Inglis, a recent purple patch for the Storm fullback has cemented Billy the Kid’s stay in the number one jersey and once more he will be one to watch for the Blues.

    But, has his likely NSW opposite Jarry Hayne overtaken him in the excitement stakes?

    2. Darius Boyd
    In a year that has seen as many highlights as well spoken and lucid press conferences, Boyd is clearly in the Maroons side on past performances.

    Which would generally be a bit of a worry, save for the fact that those performances were bloody superb.

    3. Greg Inglis
    While he may spend more time at fullback in the NRL, Greg Inglis, aka ‘the Bowraville Bomber’, seems to always save his best for Origin matches.

    Given his form for the Bunnies this year, NSW coach Laurie Daley will be looking to find some form of footy kryptonite ASAP.

    4. Justin Hodges
    He fights, he fights and fights and fights and fights.

    Generally as well-liked by fans as the price of stadium hotdogs, Maroons fans can rest easy knowing that Hodges is equally loathed by the blokes in blue trying to defend him as he has made an art form of breaking the first tackle.

    5. Brent Tate
    After a brief representative retirement, Tate has decided to go all John Farnham on us and throw himself chin first into another gruelling Origin campaign.

    Whatever he’ll give away to the NSW flankmen in youth and knee cartilage, he’s sure to make up for with experience, guile and scary faces at the camera.

    6. Johnathan Thurston
    The man they call JT shows no sign of slowing down, and much like his musical namesake looks set to continue to rock some bodies and have Blues fans crying a river. Almost unstoppable on his day.

    7. Cooper Cronk
    Rugby league’s thinking man, Melbourne’s slow start to the year had many pundits thinking that Queensland’s Mr Clutch may have to make way for one certain young Manly upstart.

    But, with an impressive track record and his sinews now all fully aligned, Cronk will again find himself a vital cog in the Maroons scum-base partnership…and trivia team!

    8. Matt Scott
    Chances are if you asked most rugby league fans to draw your archetypal front rower it would look something like North Queensland’s fridge on legs.

    Scott has been huge for the Cowboys in recent weeks and will likely be the man taking the first hit-up every set. A very underrated figure in Queensland’s winning streak.

    9. Cameron Smith
    The Maroons main man. The king toad. The big banana bender.

    With his superb defence, crafty kicking game and unrivalled ability to know when to run from dummy half, rumour has it that Smith has already had a number of sculptors take his measurement in preparation for his statue outside Lang Park in retirement.

    10. Nate Myles
    Myles continues to put in the hard yards every week at the Gold Coast and has climbed the staircase to be a must for Mal come Origin time. Will look to reignite his feud with Blues boss Paul Gallen.

    11. Chris McQueen
    The Rabbitohs wild man’s game isn’t always pretty, but he will be expected to sure up the Maroons defence particularly as the game enters its frantic latter stages.

    Also has great versatility and the ability to slot in out wide if needed.

    12. Matt Gillett
    With the injury to clubmate Sam Thaiday, Gillett will be expected to take over his roll of terrorising the Blues out wide, and should benefit from having a little less responsibility in the all-star Maroons pack.

    13. Corey Parker
    The silver stallion shows no signs of slowing down or being put out to pasture, as he continues his transition from Mr Club consistency to rep royalty.

    Mal has even promised that he might give him a break at some stage during the game.

    14. Daly Cherry-Evans
    A man who would have likely knocked up a dozen Origin games by now had he been born South of the Tweed, DCE will once again play a utility role from the bench and look to remind the Blues that things may be get worse before they get better.

    15. Ben Te’o
    Another of South Sydney’s angry men, Te’o is widely regarded for his punishing defence and will play an important role in making sure that the Maroons’ classy spine isn’t man-handled by the Blues bruiser boys.

    16. Josh Papalli
    Every team needs a little bit of fire from the bench, and despite playing in a struggling Raiders outfit, Papalli’s ability to make runners think twice sees him again make his way onto the Maroons bench.

    17. Aidan Guerra
    Having proved himself in a premiership winning Roosters side and with the Italians at last year’s World Cup, the versatile Guerra makes his Origin debut in a move that has many of those in the know cheering “Bellissimo!”

    18. Will Chambers
    The slippery Storm centre caps a remarkable comeback to the code with a call-up to the squad. He might not do much more than warm the pine, but this selection points to a succession plan.

    19. Jake Friend
    Aggressive Roosters vice-captain Friend has been one of the form hookers of the competition this year, and is rewarded with a spot in camp.

    Can’t get enough Origin? Roarers also picked their own Origin teams.
    The Roar’s New South Wales Blues team for Game 1
    The Roar’s Queensland Maroons team for Game 1