Queensland coach Kevin Walters has announced sweeping changes to his side for State of Origin Game 2, to be played at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Wednesday, June 21, with Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston returning to the side.
Slater controversially missed Game 1, but with the series on the line, he has been recalled to the position he made his own throughout Queensland’s winning streak. That is likely to push his fill-in fullback Darius Boyd to the wing, with Corey Oates dropping out of the side.
Dane Gagai also moves into the centres in place of Justin O’Neill, with Valentine Holmes set to make his debut on the other wing, claiming the vacant backline spot.
After a successful return to the NRL for the North Queensland Cowboys on Saturday against the Parramatta Eels, Johnathan Thurston reclaims his spot in the halves alongside Cooper Cronk, with his fill-in from Game 1, Anthony Milford dropping out.
Gold Coast Titans prop Jarrod Wallace who was in the squad as 18th man for Game 1 has been included in the Game 2 team, but was charged with a low-grade shoulder charge over the weekend against the New Zealand Warriors.
It carries a one-week suspension for an early guilty plea, but he will fight it at the judiciary on Tuesday night.
If found guilty, the in-form front rower will be out for two games with his Origin hopes dashed, which would force Queensland to call up another front rower.
Tim Glasby and Coen Hess have also been named to make their debuts in the forward pack, while Gavin Cooper has also been given an Origin reprieve.
With Wallace also in the team, the four forwards overlooked from Game 1 are Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Aidan Guerra and Jacob Lillyman – Wallace was the only starter and it’s likely Wallace will be a like-for-like replacement while the other three take spots on the interchange.
The surprise of Glasby is a shock, however there were calls for both Hess and Cooper to be included for Game 1.
Interestingly, the Maroons have only named 17 players, despite the threat of suspension for Wallace.
If Wallace is to be banned, Korbin Sims is shaping as the most likely replacement. Others who would come under consideration include the dropped Jacob Lillyman and Manly prop Brenton Lawrence.
There was also some speculation Josh Papalii would be moved to the front row, allowing for another second rower to be picked for the bench.
If Wallace is banned, it’s unclear if the replacement player would start the match, or be picked on the bench allowing for Tim Glasby to start.
The team was not named in numerical order
Queensland Maroons team for State of Origin Game 2
Darius Boyd – Brisbane Broncos
Will Chambers – Melbourne Storm
Gavin Cooper – North Queensland Cowboys
Cooper Cronk – Melbourne Storm
Dane Gagai – Newcastle Knights
Matt Gillett – Brisbane Broncos
Tim Glasby – Melbourne Storm
Coen Hess – North Queensland Cowboys
Valentine Holmes – Cronulla Sharks
Josh McGuire – Brisbane Broncos
Michael Morgan – North Queensland Cowboys
Dylan Napa – Sydney Roosters
Josh Papalii – Canberra Raiders
Billy Slater – Melbourne Storm
Cameron Smith – Melbourne Storm
Johnathan Thurston – North Queensland Cowboys
Jarrod Wallace – Gold Coast Titans
Coach: Kevin Walters
Roarers, what do you make of the Queensland team for Game 2? Drop a comment and let us know.