Maroon selectors have remained loyal to the squad that’s delivered them a record four straight Origin series wins making only forced changes to their line up.
Three Broncos made the cut with Ben Te’o named in the side as 18th man for next Wednesday’s series opener in Sydney.
Anita Theodorou reports.
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Two new faces welcomed into the maroon fold – Big Dave Taylor steam rolls into the side, while Cooper Cronk makes his long overdue Queensland debut alongside three of his salary cap-plagued Melbourne teammates.
Cooper Cronk, Maroons Rookie: “To finally get the call and wear the maroon jersey I idolised as a kid, there’s not too many words there to describe it.”
Mal Meninga strayed little from a formula which has produced four straight wins.
Five changes since the last Queensland team – Cameron Smith could become the sixth – given until Saturday to prove his fitness he’s still recovering from this incident in the Trans-Tasman test.
Mal Meninga, Maroons Coach: “Obviously I’m keeping my fingers crossed he’s going to be available but we’ll monitor him through the week to see what transpires.”
Despite making seven changes to the side that beat Queensland in game three last year, New South Wales has pulled no major surprises as they aim to quash Queensland’s bid for an unprecedented fifth straight series.
Paul Gallen missed the cut, Brett Morris enters where his brother left.
While Bulldogs teen Jamal Idris will be unleashed as part of a beefed-up backline the Blues hope will starve dynamic duo Inglis and Folau.
And recalled dual-international Timana Tahu sent shivers through the Blues camp overnight limping off in his side’s 7-point win over Manly.
Timana Tahu, Blues Centre: “I done it in the country game last week in the first half. It’s just a matter of looking after it.”
While the Blues set up camp in Wollongong Queensland’s heading to “Camp Coolum” an ideal setting to prepare for what will be their biggest Origin challenge in years.
Anita Theodorou, QUT News