The 2020 premiership is done and dusted and Queenslanders will be glowing with pride that their fourth team, the Melbourne Storm, have come away with yet another trophy. But now they need to prepare for Origin.
Due to COVID protocols, each team has named 27 squad players who will enter a quarantine bubble, and final playing squads for each match will be selected from these players.
The Queensland squad looks like this.
Hookers and halves
After a big clean out, 14 of last year’s Queensland Origin representatives won’t be playing this year due to either lost form or unavailability – Kalyn Ponga, Corey Oates, Michael Morgan, Will Chambers, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire, Moses Mbye, Joe Ofahengaue, Dylan Napa, Andrew Fifita, Jarrod Wallace, Tim Glasby, Corey Norman and Ethan Lowe won’t be pulling on the maroon jersey this year.
There were almost too many surprise Maroons selections to mention, and their preparation hasn’t been helped by the unexpected departure of coach Kevin Walters, and the late appointment of Wayne Bennett as his replacement.
Apart from an excellent middle forward rotation, and two excellent halves im Cherry-Evans and Cherry Evans, the rest of the players making up the Queensland numbers look to be good club standard at best.
There’s not much to get excited about in the outside backs selected and you’d think that they would struggle to get anywhere near their NSW opposition.
Scoring points is going to be a problem. Queensland’s options in the halves are also very limited and they will be crossing their fingers and toes that both Cameron Munster and Daly Cherry-Evans remain injury free for the whole series.
Another cause for concern for the maroons is their back rowers. Apart from Felise Kaufusi, the stocks look pretty bare, with Jaydn Su’a, Kurt Capewell and Coen Hess hardly setting the competition on fire this year. They’ll really have to aim up if the Maroons are to be competitive.
The run-on side for Origin 1 will probably look something like this.
1. AJ Brimson
2. Edrick Lee
3. Dane Gagai
4. Hymel Hunt
5. Philip Sami
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry- Evans
8. Josh Papalii
9. Jake Friend
10. Christian Welch
11. Felise Kaufisi
12. Patrick Carrigan
13. Jai Arrow
14. Ben Hunt
15. Moeaki Fotuaika
16. Lindsay Collins
17. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
We know what putting the maroon jersey does for Queenslanders and we can never underestimate the Wayne Bennett factor, but when you run your eye over this year’s Origin squad, all you can say to them is “good luck!”