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Opinion

My Queensland State of Origin team

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Roar Rookie
22nd July, 2020
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The 2020 the State of Origin series will be held over three consecutive weeks starting in November, following the conclusion of the NRL final series. 

Game 1 was originally scheduled to be played in June, however it will now be played on Wednesday, November 4. Game 2 and Game 3 will be played on the following consecutive Wednesday nights. The venues for all three games have not been determined at this stage.

Queensland had a dominant eight-year winning streak, however they have lost the last two Origin series following the retirement of some of the Maroons’ stars: Darren Lockyer, Johnathan Thurston, Greg Inglis and Cooper Cronk. Despite rumours, Cameron Smith is unlikely to return to representative rugby league.

This is my 2020 Queensland State of Origin team.

1. Kalyn Ponga
Ponga was outstanding in last year’s Origin opener for Queensland with two brilliant try assists. Now 23 and in his fifth NRL season, his improvements have been sensational. His talk behind the defensive line, his try-saving tackles and his elusive foot work make him first choice.

Kalyn Ponga of the Maroons

(Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

2. Xavier Coates
In 2020 Coates has demonstrated his impressive skills even in an under-performing Broncos side. The 19-year-old clocked a blistering speed of 36.9 kilometres per hour in Round 6. He is a good defender and excellent under the high ball.

3. Kotoni Staggs
Staggs is an explosive outside back who can step around defenders at will. He is a good defender and will provide the much needed strike power. He is also good under the high ball.

4. Dane Gagai
Gagai has scored 11 tries in 13 appearances for Queensland. He has publicly expressed his desire to play in the centres. He is very fast and has a good swerve. He regularly beats defenders one-on-one.

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5. Kyle Feldt
At 28, Feldt has achieved a lot playing on the wing for the Cowboys. He was a member of the 2015 premiership and World Club Challenge team. He regularly takes strong dummy-half runs out of the red zone to help the retiring forwards.

6. Cameron Munster
Munster is one of the most talented backs in the competition. His strength is his eyes-up play and running game. He reads the play very well. With Daly Cherry-Evans organising the team structure, Munster can play to his strength and talent. He can draw defenders and get a perfect pass away.

Cameron Munster

(Photo by Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

7. Daly Cherry-Evans
Cherry-Evans will captain Queensland. A club captain at Manly, he organises the team in attack and defence. He has a great kicking game and possesses pin-point accuracy with cut-out passes. His composure and rugby league brain have made him one of the most dynamic halfbacks in the game.

8. Dylan Napa
Napa is one of the more senior members of the Queensland Maroons forward pack. He has a devastating tackling style and brings a lot of grit. He is a seasoned prop who takes the hard carries and puts the opposition on the back foot.

9. Jake Friend
Friend has patiently waited behind Cameron Smith for years. At hooker he has won the last two grand finals. He defends well above his weight and gives excellent ball service. Tough and uncompromising, he is well suited to Origin.

10. Josh Papalii
He is Queensland’s best forward and was nearly a premiership player in 2019. Papalii has an outstanding tackling style perfect for Origin. He carries the ball with intent and makes great metres every game. He is very hard to tackle.

11. Felise Kaufusi
The incumbent Maroons second-rower, Kaufusi has flourished under Craig Bellamy and recently re-signed with the Storm until 2021. The Storm only keep the best and Kaufusi is certainly Origin-worthy again this year.

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12. David Fifita
At 20 years of age, Fifita has a great rugby league future. He is big, fast, strong and has a massive fend. He can hit holes at top pace and find the try line. Defensively he makes some heavy contact.

David Fifita of the Maroons runs the ball

(Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

13. Jai Arrow
Kevin Walters can sure use the skills of this star. Touted for his energy and aggression, Arrow is extremely fit and can play long minutes. He regularly capitalises on the hard yards by bursting through gaps made by tired defenders on the fringes or offloading for second-phase play.

14. Ben Hunt
Ben Hunt started in the number nine jersey in all three games of last year’s Origin series. He is the perfect utility who can not only play rake, he can play in the halves as well. He has an excellent passing and kicking game.

15. Christian Welch
The Storm now have a solid player in Welch. The prop has come off a career-best season in 2019 and was rewarded with Origin selection. This year he has been dynamic with powerful hit-ups and rib-rattling defence.

16. Patrick Carrigan
Carrigan has been a schoolboy and junior Maroons leader and now at 22 he has captained the Broncos. They clearly expect big things of him. He can mix it in the middle and coming off the bench is a good way to blood the young lad.

17. Moses Mbye
At 26, Mbye co-captains the Wests Tigers. He is an extremely versatile utility and has played as a fullback, five-eighth, halfback and hooker. He can break the line and can kick and pass with precision.

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It is common for a squad of 30 elite players to go into Origin camp. There are some notable omissions so it might be the case that further players get an opportunity throughout the three-game series.

Harry Grant is polling well in the Dally M awards. Corey Norman, Josh McGuire, Corey Horsburgh, Tim Glasby, Andrew McCullough and Joe Ofahengaue are all extremely good players so should there be any injuries or suspensions the Maroons are in a good position with plenty of depth, experience and talent.

Valentine Holmes is certainly an amazing athlete and player however he has been carrying an ankle injury and had an arthroscopy on his left ankle after the Round 9 loss. It revealed syndesmosis and the ligament was surgically repaired. It is estimated he will be out for ten weeks.

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Cowboys captain Michael Morgan has an injured shoulder that required surgery and later scans revealed an infection. It is doubtful he will be in contention this year.

Ethan Lowe is facing an indefinite period on the sidelines after he aggravated an old neck injury. He has undergone corrective surgery and is out indefinitely.

Corey Oates has also picked up a serious injury. Having been dropped from the Broncos starting squad in Round 8, he came back into the side, playing in the second row only to suffer a very deep lacerations to his upper thigh.

As for the coach, Kevin Walters has just extended his tenure as Queensland coach until the end of 2021. A proud Maroon, Walters is the ultimate professional. He played 296 first-grade games and won six premierships, so his credentials speak for themselves.

A lot of pundits suggest the State of Origin format being played after the regular season is the best going forward. It allows teams to focus on the premiership.