Cameron Smith confirms Johnathan Thurston will start Game 2

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    Queensland skipper Cameron Smith admits Wednesday night’s State of Origin game two in Sydney will mark a changing of the guard for the all-conquering Maroons.

    Veteran playmaker Johnathan Thurston will begin his Origin swansong after being cleared of a knee injury and head knock sustained at training on Sunday.

    Thurston will commence his final Origin series for Queensland after announcing he will retire from rep footy after the 2017 World Cup.

    “He’s a definite starter. He’s fine,” Smith said of Thurston.

    “He has copped worse than that. It was a bump in the opposed session and we needed that intensity at training.”

    Smith admitted Thurston may not be the only Maroons star bowing out of Origin this year with question marks over the futures of Cooper Cronk, Greg Inglis and Billy Slater.

    While Maroons veterans Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday appear to be finished in Origin after being dropped for game two.

    Queensland will get a glimpse into the future after making seven team changes and naming four debutants in the wake of their record 28-4 series-opening loss.

    The Maroons selectors put a broom through the Queensland pack after they were dominated in game one, cutting Myles, Thaiday, Jacob Lillyman and Aidan Guerra.

    Smith all but confirmed the Origin careers of veterans Myles, Thaiday and Lillyman were over and believed their contributions should be celebrated.

    “Definitely it’s a changing of the guard,” Smith said.

    “This side has been so fortunate through injuries and our sustained success that we haven’t had to make too changes over the last decade.

    “The players left out of this game, it’s hard to see those guys go but the way I see it we should celebrate what those guys have done for this state.

    “It’s just time for those guys to move on and see some young guys come in.”

    Queensland welcome back Thurston from a shoulder injury that forced him to miss game one, ending his record run of 36 straight Origins.

    The Maroons also celebrate the return of fullback Slater, who plays his first Origin in two years after two shoulder reconstructions.

    “He’s one of the greatest players of all time. I am looking forward to seeing him play for Queensland again,” Smith said.

    Prop Jarrod Wallace, winger Valentine Holmes and bench forwards Coen Hess and Tim Glasby will make their Queensland debuts.

    “I have been impressed with Coen Hess, it is the first time I have seen him in real life,” Smith said of the 20-year-old Cowboys back-rower.

    “I watched him on telly and he’s big but met him at the camp and he’s bigger.”

    Queensland fly into Sydney on Monday night.

    © AAP 2017

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