The Queensland Maroons have finally locked in their team in for Game 2, with coach Kevin Walters springing a few surprises, including naming Darius Boyd in the centres.
With the Maroons team named alphabetically on Monday, Walters revealed his 17 on Friday morning, with Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston confirmed to make their returns.
Dane Gagai, who was one of Queensland’s best in Game 1, has been retained on the wing despite his backline versatility. This pushes Darius Boyd, one of the most prolific try scorers in Origin history to the centres as Billy Slater claims the fullback spot, playing his first Origin game in two years.
Whether they will take the field that way is another question given Boyd has never played in the centres, but Walters naming it that way suggests he has plenty of faith in Gagai to do a similar job to the one he did in the series opener.
Johnathan Thurston is also back in the halves, partnering Cooper Cronk. The pair has won ten Origin games together and will be aiming to make it 11 at Homebush on Wednesday, with the series on the line.
Gold Coast Titans prop Jarrod Wallace has been named in the props after overcoming a shoulder charge judiciary case during the week. There was talk he would come off the bench with Josh Papalii to shift into the front row, but that notion has been put to bed with Wallace named in the no.10 jersey.
Papalii has been given a role by coach Walters to come off the bench and cause some damage, with Cowboys second rower Gavin Cooper named in the starting side. Given his combination with Johnathan Thurston, it could present a challenge for the Blues to contain.
The two other men brought into the team – Coen Hess and Tim Glasby – will make their debuts off the bench, with Walters not making any other changes to the starting 13 from Game 1.
Cameron Munster has also been added to the squad as 18th man and is expected to link up with the Maroons camp on Sunday after the Storm host the Cowboys on Saturday evening.
Queensland Maroons team for Game 2
1. Billy Slater
2. Valentine Holmes
3. Will Chambers
4. Darius Boyd
5. Dane Gagai
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Dylan Napa
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Jarrod Wallace
11. Gavin Cooper
12. Matt Gillett
13. Josh McGuire
14. Michael Morgan
15. Josh Papalii
16. Coen Hess
17. Tim Glasby
18th man: Cameron Munster