Who is Queensland’s best option to replace Johnathan Thurston?
How do you replace one of the best players of all time? It’s not easy to do, just ask Anthony Milford. But as head towards the third and final State of Origin of the year with the series on the line Kevin Walters and the Queensland selectors must find an answer to that question. But who is the best option to line-up in Game III
Logic should dictate Morgan should be given a start, his seven previous appearances have all been off the bench including two this series. He’s familiar with the current Maroons style of play and has the stats to back it up.
He has kicked the ball 106 times for the Cowboys, for 2422 metres with 57 attacking kicks and 32 long kicks. He has set up 11 tries this season and has scored five for himself. One to run at the line, he has contributed to 15 line breaks and has made 907 metres from 108 runs.
Another player who will slot straight into the team is Melbourne utility Cameron Munster. He can move into the left centre role also but won’t be out of place at five-eight. He plays with Cronk, Cameron Smith, and Billy Slater at club level and seems to go just fine.
He has assisted eight tries this season, and has ran the ball 132 times for 1170 metres. He has set up 13 line breaks and has made 39 tackle busts. There is the question of whether such an inexperienced player will be given such a huge role and with 28 missed tackles this season New South Wales’ big men will go out of their way to give him trouble.
The Manly half has already made six appearances for Queensland with a 50 per cent winning record (three wins, three losses) but his name hasn’t really been put in the conversation for both matches with Anthony Milford and Michael Morgan being picked over him.
However his form for Manly this season has been great, setting up 18 tries and 14 line breaks to go with 17 tackle busts, and kicking the ball 112 times for 2876 metres. Cherry-Evans has forced five more drop outs than Cronk and while he’ll have to shift to five-eight he’s more than worth a shout.
Paul Gallen might have more of a chance of getting into Queensland’s team than Ben Hunt but when Allan Langer of all people, sings your praises it might be worth listening to.
Hunt is yet to make his Origin debut and has only made nine appearances for Brisbane this season after seemingly falling out since his move to St George Illawarra was made public but he’s made an impact in the little time given, assisting eight tries, making 37 runs, setting up six line breaks, busting 21 tackles and his 90 kicks have been a combined 2654 metres.
Thankfully it’s our job to speculate not to select because there could be a few sleepless nights for Kevin Walters before the teams are announced for Game III.