On the back of their first Origin series loss since 2005, the Queensland Maroons will once again be relying on experience and loyalty as they look to reclaim the Origin shield. Faith is likely to be placed in many of the Queensland players who steered the Maroons to eight consecutive series wins, as coach Mal Meninga will be expecting the chemistry and ability of his experienced side to get the job done.
Of the incumbent Queensland spine, albeit injury or suspension, Cooper Cronk, Jonathan Thurston, and Cameron Smith are all but guaranteed their place in the side. Billy Slater is the only one of the four whose position is under scrutiny, with Greg Inglis also favouring the fullback position, however it is likely that Meninga will opt to keep the champion fullback in his preferred position.
The Maroons backline is likely to remain unchanged from game 3 of the 2014 series, with Justin Hodges likely to retain his centre position ahead of his final origin series. Storm centre Will Chambers should retain his spot on the wing, however if Hodges is not selected then Chambers could push to the centres with Dane Gagai likely to debut on the wing. Gagai could also earn a spot on the team if Darius Boyd is not selected due to him only just returning from a serious Achilles injury.
The Maroons forward pack will be similar to the side from last year, with only Rugby convert Ben Teo a certain omission. David Taylor’s form in 2015 has been very ordinary, and he will miss out on a position on the Queensland bench. Nate Myles hasn’t been in the best of form so far this season, however he should be named in the side based on his previous role in the Maroons dynasty. Matt Scott will return to the starting front row after missing last years final due to injury, and his replacement Jacob Lillyman should earn a bench position due to his consistent performance for the Maroons.
In-form Broncos front-rower Josh McGuire should be selected to make his origin debut, following his selection as 18th man in game three of the 2014 series.
The backrow will be made up of Sam Thaiday and Aidan Guerra, while Matt Gillet will be used in the second-row role off the interchange bench. Bronco’s veteran Corey Parker will retain his position at lock.
One final bench utility position is up for grabs, and three of the most exciting halves in the competition are gunning for the spot. Daly Cherry Evans, Ben Hunt, and Michael Morgan have all staked their claim as to why they should be the Maroons Mr-Fix-it, but it is DCE who is likely to retain his position off the bench.
The Gold Coast bound halfback has big game experience not only in Origin, but also for Australia and in Grand Finals, and it is his proven ability to perform in the games that matter most that should see him get the nod. Hunt and Morgan have been in brilliant form as late, however the statistics lean towards Cherry-Evans, as he has more line-break and try assists than both players.
Age is in favour of the 23-year-old Morgan, who will undoubtedly be a member of the Queensland side for years to come, however experience is likely to cost him leading in to the 2015 series.
25 year old Ben Hunt, and Cherry-Evans, 26, very well may be the Queensland halves pairing in the near future as Cooper Cronk and Jonathan Thurston near the ends of their careers, however experience is likely to result in DCE earning a spot on the Maroons side for Game 1 of the 2015 series.
Likely Maroons Side Game 1 2015
- Billy Slater
- Darius Boyd
- Greg Inglis
- Justin Hodges
- Will Chambers
- Jonathan Thurston
- Cooper Cronk
- Matt Scott
- Cameron Smith
- Nate Myles
- Aidan Guerra
- Sam Thaiday
- Corey Parker
- Daly Cherry-Evans
- Josh McGuire
- Matt Gillet
- Jacob Lillyman
- Ben Hunt