The Queensland Maroons will field three debutants in the first match of the 2019 State of Origin Series as they begin their quest to regain the series title, although fans will have to wait a little longer to learn which player will become the northern state’s next captain.
Moses Mbye, Joe Ofahengaue and David Fifita will all make their first appearances for Queensland on June 5, a team that has completed their changing of the guard with the retirements of Billy Slater and Greg Inglis this season.
As expected, the Maroons will go into battle with Kalyn Ponga taking over at fullback. The Newcastle Knights custodian played from the bench as utility last year and will take over from Slater at the back.
Corey Oates and Dane Gagai retain their places on the wings, while Will Chambers lines up in the centres alongside Michael Morgan.
The selection of Morgan has been up in the air with regards to his position, however, with Daly Cherry-Evans passed fit to play in the halves, the Cowboys half and utility will line up in the centres.
Queensland’s outside back depth was a major problem coming into the series, with Edrick Lee and Kyle Feldt both touted as potential options in the lead-up to the squad announcement.
Alongside Cherry-Evans in the halves will be the Melbourne Storm’s Cameron Munster, completing a backline with the fewest amount of changes from Queensland’s 2-1 series loss in 2018.
The other major area of contention for the Maroons was at hooker, with Andrew McCullough and Jake Friend both injured heading into the series.
Instead of selecting Jake Granville, the Queenslanders have gone with Ben Hunt to start in the nine, and Moses Mbye to play from the bench as the utility.
Jai Arrow and Josh Papalii will start in the front row, while Felise Kaufusi, Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire round out a forward pack with plenty of strength.
Dylan Napa has been demoted to the bench after an average start to the 2019 season at the Bulldogs, while Joe Ofahengaue and David Fifita round out a youthful bench with three debutants included.
Coach Kevin Walters is expected to announce the new captain at tonight’s Maroons Series Launch dinner in Brisbane. The new skipper will become Queensland’s fifteenth captain, after Greg Inglis’ retirement last month.
Queensland Team Origin 1
1. Kalyn Ponga
2. Corey Oates
3. Will Chambers
4. Michael Morgan
5. Dane Gagai
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Jai Arrow
9. Ben Hunt
10. Josh Papalii
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. Matt Gillett
13. Josh McGuire
14. Moses Mbye
15. Joe Ofahengaue
16. Dylan Napa
17. David Fifita
18. Tim Glasby