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NSW & QLD State of Origin teams 2021

James Tedesco raises the State of Origin shield. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Here are the State of Origin teams for the 2021 series for both the NSW Blues and Queensland Maroons.

The Blues won Game 2 26-0, therefore winning the series after their 50-6 triumph in Game 1.

The Maroons regained some pride by winning Game 3 20-18.

2021 State of Origin teams

Game 3

NSW Blues Number Queensland Maroons
James Tedesco (c) 1 Kalyn Ponga
Brian To’o 2 Valentine Holmes
Latrell Mitchell 3 Dane Gagai
Tom Trbojevic 4 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
Josh Addo-Carr 5 Xavier Coates
Jack Wighton 6 Cameron Munster
Mitchell Moses 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c)
Junior Paulo 10/8 Christian Welch
Damien Cook 9 Ben Hunt
Dale Finucane 18/10 Josh Papalii
Cameron Murray 11 Kurt Capewell
Tariq Sims 12 Felise Kaufusi
Isaah Yeo 13/15 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
Bench
Apisai Koroisau 14 AJ Brimson
Angus Crichton 15/16 Moeaki Fotuaika
Payne Haas 16/18 Francis Molo
Liam Martin 17/20 Thomas Flegler
Reserves
Nicho Hynes 19 Kurt Mann
Clint Gutherson 20/21 Coen Hess

Game 3 news

There’s been late drama in the Maroons camp after Jai Arrow was suspended for two matches and fined $35,000 for breaching COVID biosecurity bubble. The NRL integrity unit issued the breach notice following allegations Arrow brought a woman outside the bubble into his hotel room.

Barely 24 hours after NSW secured the 2021 Origin series, news broke that star halfback Nathan Cleary’s season is in jeopardy with a badly injured shoulder.

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Cleary reportedly suffered the injury early in the Blues’ 26-0 win at Suncorp Stadium, but battled through the match. He’s already been ruled out of Origin 3, while the Penrith Panthers are considering surgery which would likely end his NRL season.

Mitchell Moses has been named by Fittler to make his debut in the no.7 jersey. He’ll be joined by Jack Wighton in the halves.

Penrith hooker Api Koroisau has also been named on the bench to make his debut.

Fittler was forced to make further changes with an injury to Daniel Saifiti. Dale Finucane has come into the team as a replacement with the Blues adding two players as cover including Clint Gutherson and Stefano Utoikamanu.

As for the Maroons, hooker Harry Grant will once again miss the match with a hamstring injury. In better news, fullback Kalyn Ponga will play and Queensland will unleash teenager Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow to see what he can achieve in the dead rubber.

However, they’ve been hampered by David Fifita’s one-match suspension for a late tackle. He’s out of the side, meaning 18th man Francis Molo gets another opportunity.

Game 2

Queensland Maroons Number NSW Blues
Valentine Holmes 2/1 James Tedesco
Xavier Coates 20/2 Brian To’o
Kurt Capewell 3 Latrell Mitchell
Dane Gagai 4 Tom Trbojevic
Kyle Feldt 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Cameron Munster 6 Jarome Luai
Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 7 Nathan Cleary
Christian Welch 8 Daniel Saifiti
Andrew McCullough 9 Damien Cook
Josh Papalii 10 Junior Paulo
Felise Kaufusi 11 Camero Murray
Jai Arrow 12 Tariq Sims
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 13 Isaah Yeo
Bench
Ben Hunt 14 Jack Wighton
Moeaki Fotuaika 15 Angus Crichton
David Fifita 16 Payne Haas
Francis Molo 17 Liam Martin
Reserves
Coen Hess 18 Apisai Koroisau
19 Campbell Graham
20 Dale Finucane
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Queensland Maroons
Queensland’s ordeal in naming a team for Game 2 was one of the most unbelievable in State of Origin history.

The Maroons were forced into three late backline changes after Ronaldo Mulitalo was ruled ineligible to play Origin. That meant Xavier Coates, who’d been dumped from the squad altogether after a horror performance in Game 1, was parachuted into the starting line-up after all.

It capped off a truly wild week of selection news for the underdogs. First, they made headlines after handing Warriors rookie Reece Walsh a debut at fullback despite the 18-year-old having played just seven NRL games to date.

His inclusion, which had been slammed as ‘desperate’ by Origin legends, was necessitated by Kalyn Ponga’s continued absence with a groin injury as well as AJ Brimson’s knee injury.

But Walsh succumbed to a leg injury of his own during training. That meant Valentine Holmes, who played fullback in Game 1, was moved off the wing and back into the fullback spot, bringing Ronaldo Mulitalo off the reserves list and onto a wing.

As if it couldn’t get any weirder, New South Wales then claimed Mulitalo was ineligible to represent the Maroons because he had lived in New Zealand until he was 14. Players must have lived in their state before they were 13 to represent them at Origin level.

Sensationally, the NRL has stepped in and barred the Cronulla player from making his debut – allowing Coates to re-join the squad.

Tha wasn’t all for the Maroons; forward Jai Arrow was sent to hospital to deal with an oral infection. He did, however, line up.

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At hooker, Harry Grant also joined the casualty ward with a hamstring problem, while second choice Reed Mahoney was still nursing a shoulder complaint.

Andrew McCullough started at hooker, with Ben Hunt replacing Brimson as the bench utility. David Fifita was also moved to the bench. Joe Ofahenguae and Jaydn Su’A both dropped out of the side.

One welcome sight for Queensland fans was the return of Josh Papalii. The prop missed Game 1 through suspension but came straight back into the run-on front row for Game 2 alongside Christian Welch, with Tino Fa’asuamaleaui moving to lock and Jai Arrow to the second row next to Felise Kaufusi.

Kurt Capewell and Dane Gagai partnered up in the centres, Kyle Feldt started opposite Coates on the wing, and Cameron Munster once again joined captain Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves.

NSW Blues
Unsurprisingly for a side coming off a 50-6 win, the Blues made few changes to their side for Game 2.

The only real mystery was how Jake Trbojevic would be replaced. Having started at prop in the series opener, the star forward was ruled out of Game 2 with a hip injury. In a small surprise, it was Junior Paulo coming off the bench to win the starting job over Game 2 inclusions Angus Crichton and Dale Finucane, both of whom have series-winning experience at Origin level.

Finucane had to settle for a spot in the reserves, while Angus Crichton earned a spot on the interchange alongside Payne Haas.

Otherwise, NSW were unchanged, with Jarome Hughes and Nathan Cleary in the halves, James Tedesco captaining from fullback, and Brian To’o, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic and Josh Addo-Carr rounding out the backline.

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Damien Cook started at hooker, while Daniel Saifiti, Cameron Murray, Tariq Sims and Isaah Yeo retained their places in the side.

Jack Wighton and Liam Martin also kept their places on the bench.

Tom Trbojevic of the Blues runs the ball

Tom Trbojevic. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Game 1

Queensland Maroons Number NSW Blues
Valentine Holmes 5/1 James Tedesco (c)
Xavier Coates 2 Brian To’o
Kurt Capewell 3 Latrell Mitchell
Dane Gagai 4 Tom Trbojevic
Kyle Feldt 18/5 Josh Addo-Carr
Cameron Munster 6 Jarome Luai
Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 7 Nathan Cleary
Christian Welch 8 Daniel Saifiti
Harry Grant 9 Damien Cook
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui 10 Jake Trbojevic
Felise Kaufusi 11 Cameron Murray
David Fifita 12 Tariq Sims
Jai Arrow 13 Isaah Yeo
Bench
AJ Brimson 14 Jack Wighton
Jaydn Su’A 15 Junior Paulo
Moeaki Fotuaika 16 Payne Haas
Joe Ofahengaue 17 Liam Martin
Reserves
Coen Hess 20/18 Api Koroisau
Ben Hunt 21/19 Campbell Graham
20 Keaon Koloamatangi

NSW Blues

Brad Fittler named a 19-player squad for the Origin opener in Townsville. While the group contained series-winning experience and a sizeable contingent from the table-topping Penrith Panthers, Fittler’s selections were impacted by a number of key unavailabilities.

Melbourne Storm star Ryan Papenhuyzen was ruled out with concussion, but the main blows came to the forward pack. Lock Victor Radley (suspension), and second rowers Angus Crichton (suspension) and Tyson Frizell (ankle injury) were all not available for selection.

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The Blues still had a strong side though. Superstar James Tedesco captained the team from fullback, with lethal tryscorers Brian To’o and Josh Addo-Carr on the wings. It was To’o’s first Origin appearance after a barnstorming start to the NRL season.

Fittler opted for an all-new centre pairing of Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell, both of whom were making their return to the Blues after missing the 2020 series. The duo excelled at fullback for their respective club sides and had both played centre for NSW before with great success.

Panthers duo Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai linked up in the halves, Luai winning the race for the five-eighth jersey ahead of Jack Wighton, who started on the bench. Damien Cook was once again the side’s hooker, keeping the number nine jersey he has held since the start of 2018.

Daniel Saifiti and Jake Trbojevic started in the front row despite questions over their club form, and there was plenty of mobility in the rest of the forward pack with Cameron Murray named in the second row and Isaah Yeo at lock. Tariq Sims was something of a surprise selection to partner Murray.

Joining Wighton on the bench were forwards Junior Paulo, Payne Haas and Liam Martin, while Api Koroisau and Campbell Graham were 18th and 19th man respectively. Keaon Koloamatangi was a late addition to the squad a week out from Game 1.

The selections meant a number of players have dropped out of last year’s squad – Daniel Tupou, Clint Gutherson, Cody Walker, Dale Finucane and Nathan Brown were all gone from the side that lined up in Games 2 and 3 of 2020, as well as the unavailable Crichton and Frizell.

Queensland Maroons

The Blues weren’t the only ones dealing with the unavailabilities of key players for the Origin opener. New coach Paul Green named a 20-man squad in alphabetical order rather than by position, and was without the services of prop Josh Papalii (suspended), and the injured Kalyn Ponga, Lindsay Collins, Brenko Lee, Corey Allan. On top of that, Cameron Munster (foot), Harry Grant (hamstring) and AJ Brimson (knee) all entered camp under injury clouds.

While Brimson and Munster are expected to be fit, Kalyn Ponga was officially ruled out of Game 1 with a groin injury a week before kick-off, despite initially being selected in the squad. In his absence, Valentine Holmes started at fullback instead of out wide, with Kyle Feldt making his long-awaited Origin debut on the wing opposite Xavier Coates.

Harry Grant started at hooker, with AJ Brimson backing him up as the bench utility.

After being released from the squad to play for Parramatta, backup hooker Reed Mahoney was ruled out of Game 1 while on club duty with a shoulder injury, meaning Ben Hunt came in as the squad’s 19th man.

Munster was passed fit and lined up at five-eighth alongside captain and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves.

Kurt Capewell and Tino Fa’ausuamaleaui both excelled in their first Origin series and were backed to do the job once again – albeit with Capewell returning to the centres, where he made his Origin debut – as were Jai Arrow, Moeaki Fotuaika, Coen Hess, Jaydn Su’A and Christian Welch.

Felise Kaufusi is another familiar face in the squad, and was cleared to play Game 1 after beating a tripping charge at the judiciary.

David Fifita was a big inclusion after missing last year with injury. The Gold Coast second-rower had been in blistering form to start the season and was one of four Titans picked in the squad. Joe Ofahenguae also made a return to the Queensland squad following some strong performances for the Tigers.

Kurt Capewell

(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

2020 State of Origin teams

Game 3

Queensland Maroons Number NSW Blues
Corey Allan 5/1 James Tedesco (c)
Edrick Lee 19/2 Daniel Tupou
Brenko Lee 21/3 Clint Gutherson
Dane Gagai 4 Jack Wighton
Valentine Holmes 1/5 Josh Addo-Carr
Cameron Munster 6 Cody Walker
Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 7 Nathan Cleary
Christian Welch 8 Daniel Saifiti
Jake Friend 9 Damien Cook
Josh Papalii 10 Payne Haas
Felise Kaufusi 11 Angus Crichton
Kurt Capewell 3/12 Tyson Frizell
Tino Faasuamaleaui 13 Jake Trbojevic
Bench
Harry Grant 14 Dale Finucane
Lindsay Collins 15 Nathan Brown
Jai Arrow 16 Junior Paulo
Jaydn Su’A 12/17 Isaah Yeo
Reserves
Ben Hunt 18 Ryan Papenhuyzen
Dunamis Lui 17/20 Cameron McInnes

Queensland Maroons
After being relatively settled for Game 2, injuries and the Sydney result saw the Maroons make mass changes to their team for the decider.

Corey Allan, after initially being named on the wing, made his Queensland debut at fullback, moving Valentine Holmes to the wing in place of the injured Xavier Coates.

Coates’ late groin injury also saw Edrick Lee picked for his first Origin, Kurt Capewell moved from the centres to the second row, and Brenko Lee brought into the side for his first Maroons cap.

Capewell’s introduction to the second row saw Jaydn Su’A moved back to the bench and Dunamis Lui dropped from the side entirely.

The other changes for Queensland saw Harry Grant called onto the bench to make his debut in place of Ben Hunt, and Christian Welch recalled to the front row after missing Game 2 due to concussion protocols. Five-eighth Cameron Munster was also fit to play after picking up a head knock early in Sydney, and put in a man-of-the-match display.

Hunt and Lui were the two reserves.

NSW Blues
Whereas Queensland made plenty of changes to their side, the story couldn’t have been more different for Brad Fittler and the Blues. Not only did NSW go into Game 3 1-17 as originally named, it was the exact same group that won the second match of the series, with Fittler deciding against changing any part of his team.

The Blues were sweating on the fitness of star winger Josh Addo-Carr after he was seen on crutches and in a moon boot leading up to the game, but the Melbourne flyer was named to take his place on the right wing and played the full 80 minutes, although looked hampered at times.

The only changes to the matchday squad came in the reserves, where Ryan Papenhuyzen was named as a backup for the first time in the series. Cameron McInnes was the other standby player.

Game 2

NSW Blues Number Queensland Maroons
James Tedesco (c) 1 Valentine Holmes
Daniel Tupou 2 Xavier Coates
Clint Gutherson 3 Kurt Capewell
Jack Wighton 4 Dane Gagai
Josh Addo-Carr 5 Phillip Sami
Cody Walker 6 Cameron Munster
Nathan Cleary 7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c)
Daniel Saifiti 8 Dunamis Lui
Damien Cook 9 Jake Friend
Payne Haas 10 Josh Papalii
Angus Crichton 11 Felise Kaufusi
Tyson Frizell 12 Jaydn Su’A
Jake Trbojevic 13 Tino Faasuamaleaui
Bench
Dale Finucane 14 Ben Hunt
Nathan Brown 15 Lindsay Collins
Junior Paulo 16 Jai Arrow
Isaah Yeo 17 Moeaki Fotuaika
Reserves
Cameron McInnes 20 Josh Kerr
Stephen Crichton 21 Edrick Lee

NSW Blues
The Blues were dealt two massive injury blows during their Game 1 loss. Boyd Cordner was forced from the field with a head knock and, while he passed his HIA and returned to the field, the skipper was ruled out of the rest of the series due to his history of concussion. They were also without Cameron Murray, after he sustained a hamstring strain in his very first run during Game 1.

James Tedesco took over the captaincy from Cordner, with Angus Crichton taking the vacant second-row position following a strong performance off the bench in the series opener.

Payne Haas was promoted from the bench to starting prop, with Junior Paulo moving in the other direction.

The big selection surprise for the Blues was the shock omission of Luke Keary. He was left out of the 17 altogether, with Cody Walker being promoted to the starting five-eighth. The rest of the backline was unchanged.

The bench for Game 2 was completely different to the one used in Adelaide. With Walker, Haas and Crichton all moving into the starting side, Dale Finucane, Nathan Brown and Isaah Yeo were brought onto the pine alongside Paulo for their first appearances of the series. Brown and Yeo made their Origin debuts.

Queensland Maroons
The Maroons won Game 1 18-14, but were dealt a massive injury blow with fullback AJ Brimson ruled out of the rest of the series with a syndesmosis injury. Valentine Holmes, who was unavailable for the Adelaide match due to suspension, took his place at fullback.

Kurt Capewell, one of Queensland’s best in the opener, had been under an injury cloud with groin tightness, but was named to play. Christian Welch was also ruled out with a head knock, replaced in the run-on side by Dunamis Lui.

Other changes to Queensland’s side included Jaydn Su’A replacing Coen Hess in the second row and Moeaki Fotuaika taking Su’A’s place in the interchange bench.

Game 1

Queensland Maroons Number NSW Blues
AJ Brimson 1 James Tedesco
Xavier Coates 2 Daniel Tupou
Kurt Capewell 18/3 Clint Gutherson
Dane Gagai 4 Jack Wighton
Phillip Sami 5 Josh Addo-Carr
Cameron Munster 6 Luke Keary
Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 7 Nathan Cleary
Christian Welch 8 Daniel Saifiti
Jake Friend 9 Damien Cook
Josh Papalii 10 Junior Paulo
Felise Kaufusi 11 Boyd Cordner (c)
Coen Hess 12 Tyson Frizell
Tino Faasuamaleaui 13 Jake Trbojevic
Bench
Ben Hunt 14 Cody Walker
Lindsay Collins 15 Payne Haas
Jai Arrow 16 Cameron Murray
Jaydn Su’A 17 Angus Crichton

Queensland
It was an almost unrecognisable Maroons lineup compared to Game 3 last year, with no fewer than ten personnel changes for Wayne Bennett’s side coming into the series-opener.

Corey Oates, Moses Mbye, Will Chambers, Corey Norman, Joe Ofahengaue, Ethan Lowe, Josh McGuire, Michael Morgan, Tim Glasby and David Fifita were all missing from last year’s decider due to either form or fitness.

In fact, Daly Cherry-Evans at halfback, Josh Papalii at right prop and Felise Kaufusi in the second row were the only similarities between this side and the one that took the field last time for Queensland.

Four other players retained their spots but changed positions, with Cameron Munster moving from fullback to five-eighth, Dane Gagai shifting from the wing to the centres, Christian Welch moving off the bench and into the forward pack and Ben Hunt dropping to the interchange from hooker.

The new-look backline saw AJ Brimson make his Origin debut at fullback, Brenko Lee join Gagai in the centres, while Xavier Coates and Phillip Sami formed a new pairing on the wings.

It was Munster and Cherry-Evans in the halves as expected, with Jake Friend rounding out the spine at hooker. Welch joined Papalii in the props, Coen Hess joined Felise Kaufusi in the second row and Tino Faasuamaleaui was the lock.

Hunt was joined by new additions Lindsay Collins, Jai Arrow and Jaydn Su’A on the bench.

New South Wales
The Blues didn’t exactly come into Origin 1 with a familiar cast either – they made eight changes compared to their series win last year.

The headline was a new-look halves pairing, with Nathan Cleary replacing Mitchell Pearce at halfback and Luke Keary replacing James Maloney at five-eighth. That said, it’s likely that was the halves pairing NSW would have gone with in 2019 had both players not suffered injuries.

James Tedesco retained his place at fullback, as did Josh Addo-Carr on the right wing and Jack Wighton in the centres. Daniel Tupou took the left wing spot off Blake Ferguson, while Clint Gutherson slotted into the centres after Tom Trbojevic was ruled out with injury.

The forward pack, on the other hand, was barely changed. Junior Paulo earned the nod alongside Daniel Saifiti at prop following David Klemmer’s controversial exclusion from the squad, but otherwise it was business as usual. Boyd Cordner and Tyson Frizell again manned the second row and Jake Trbojevic lined up at lock. Damien Cook also retained his place at hooker.

Cody Walker, who many thought could steal a starting halves spot, got his chance as the bench utility, with Payne Haas, Cameron Murray and Angus Crichton rounding out the bench.

Series squads

Due to the nature of this year’s tournament, both NSW and Queensland named 27-man squads to be used across the whole series.

New South Wales Blues Queensland Maroons
Josh Addo-Carr Corey Allan
Nathan Brown Jai Arrow
Reagan Campbell-Gillard AJ Brimson
Nathan Cleary Patrick Carrigan
Damien Cook Kurt Capewell
Boyd Cordner Daly Cherry-Evans
Nick Cotric Xavier Coates
Angus Crichton Lindsay Collins
Stephen Crichton Tino Faasuamaleaui
Dale Finucane Moeaki Fotuaika
Tyson Frizell Jake Friend
Clint Gutherson Dane Gagai
Payne Haas Harry Grant
Luke Keary Coen Hess
Zac Lomax Valentine Holmes
Jarome Luai Ben Hunt
Cameron McInnes Hymel Hunt
Cameron Murray Felise Kaufusi
Ryan Papenhuyzen Josh Kerr
Junior Paulo Brenko Lee
Daniel Saifiti Edrick Lee
James Tedesco Dunamis Lui
Jake Trbojevic Cameron Munster
Daniel Tupou Josh Papalii
Cody Walker Phillip Sami
Jack Wighton Jaydn Su’A
Isaah Yeo Christian Welch

New South Wales

New South Wales Blues Origin squad
Nathan Brown, Josh Addo-Carr, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Nathan Cleary, Damien Cook, Boyd Cordner, Nick Cotric, Angus Crichton, Stephen Crichton, Dale Finucane, Tyson Frizell, Clint Gutherson, Payne Haas, Luke Keary, Zac Lomax, Larome Luai, Cameron McInnes, Cameron Murray, Ryan Papenhuyzen, Junior Paulo, Daniel Saifiti, James Tedesco, Jake Trbojevic, Daniel Tupou, Cody Walker, Jack Wighton, Isaah Yeo

Brad Fittler named an Origin squad of 27 players, seven of which competed in the NRL grand final.

Josh Addo-Carr, Dale Finucane and Ryan Papenhuyzen were the three Storm players to make the cut, while four Panthers were selected: Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Stephen Crichton and Isaah Yeo. However, Papenhuyzen missed the first match as he managed a calf injury.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs had Damien Cook, Cameron Murray and Cody walker selected, while the Canberra Raiders had two representatives in Nick Cotric and Jack Wighton.

Both clubs had fewer selections than the beaten semi-finalists, the Parramatta Eels and Sydney Roosters. The Roosters had five representatives: captain and second-rower Boyd Corndner, five-eighth Luke Keary, second-rower Angus Crichton, star fullback James Tedesco and winger Daniel Tupou.

There were four Eels selected in the wider squad: front-rowers Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Junior Paulo, edge forward Dylan Brown and fullback Clint Gutherson. However, Gutherson was tipped to take the place in the centres left by Tom Trbojevic’s series-ending injury.

Of the other selections, Payne Haas, Daniel Saifiti, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic all played a part in the Blues’ 2019 series victory. Jake’s brother and Manly teammate Tom had initially been included in the squad, but was ruled out of the series after an injury-plagued 2020 and later replaced by the uncapped Zac Lomax.

Dragons hooker/lock Cameron McInnes was the other selection, as a depth player.

There were a couple of eye-raising non-selections, too. Prop David Klemmer, one of the Blues best in the past two series victories, was a notable omission after the Knights’ season ended, while Sharks second-rower Wade Graham, another key player in the 2019 success, was also left out. Klemmer’s fellow prop Paul Vaughan was another omission. Many were expecting Souths centre Campbell Graham to come into the squad after and excellent year, but he was overlooked by Fittler.

Backs Kotoni Staggs and Latrell Mitchell, like Tom Trbojevic, were not available for selection due to injury.

Nathan Cleary kicks for the Blues during State of Origin

Nathan Cleary. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

Queensland Maroons

Corey Allan, Jai Arrow, AJ Brimson, Patrick Carrigan, Kurt Capewell, Daly Cherry-Evans, Xavier Coates, Lindsay Collins, Tino Faasuamaleaui, Moeaki Fotuaika, Jake Friend, Dane Gagai, Harry Grant, Coen Hess, Valentine Holmes, Ben Hunt, Hymel Hunt, Felise Kaufusi, Josh Kerr, Brenko Lee, Edrick Lee, Dunamis Lui, Cameron Munster, Josh Papalii, Phillip Sami, Jaydn Su’A, Christian Welch

Maroons coach Wayne Bennett could not call on star fullback Kalyn Ponga, who missed the series to have shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum.

The last additions to the squad come from grand finalists the Melbourne Storm and Penrith Panthers. Utility Kurt Capewell was the lone Panther in the side, while there were five Storm players selected: Tino Faasuamaleaui, Felise Kaufusi, Brenko Lee, Cameron Munster and Christian Welch.

Five Maroons came from the Rabbitohs and Raiders. Jaydn Su’A, Corey Allan and Dane Gagai were the South Sydney representatives, while Dunamis Lui and Josh Papalii were the two Canberra players picked.

Four Gold Coast Titans were in the squad, the most of any club outside the Storm. AJ Brimson was the favourite to claim the no.1 jersey, Jai Arrow was a nigh-on certainty to take a spot in the forward pack, Phillip Sami was an option in a backline decimated by injury and Moeaki Fotuaika was a chance to come into the front row.

Also named were Cowboys pair Coen Hess and Valentine Holmes, although the latter missed Game 1 due to a suspension for a shoulder charge. Their club teammate, Josh McGuire, a Maroons regular in recent years, was left out of the side, as was Titans prop Jarrod Wallace, as Bennett looked to refresh the Queensland line-up after successive series defeats.

The Broncos and Dragons also had two players apiece in the side – youngsters Patrick Carrigan and Xavier Coates from Brisbane, and Ben Hunt and Josh Kerr from St George Illawarra – and there were a two further Knights in addition to Ponga: backs Hymel Hunt and Edrick Lee.

Halfback and captain Daly Cherry-Evans, hooker Harry Grant and Roosters duo Jake Friend and Lindsay Collins rounded out the selections.

Injuries created havoc in the Queensland squad. In addition to Ponga, all of Michael Morgan (shoulder), Anthony Milford (hamstring), Kyle Feldt (groin) and David Fifita (syndesmosis) were ruled out for the three games.

Daly Cherry-Evans

Daly Cherry-Evans. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

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