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Guerra gets Maroon nod as Thaiday ruled out

Roosters backrower Aidan Guerra will debut for Queensland in the Origin opener.

Roosters backrower Aidan Guerra will debut for Queensland in the Origin opener. Photo: Jonathan Carroll

Sam Thaiday will miss the Origin opener and Roosters backrower Aidan Guerra will make his debut as Queensland reshuffle their backrow ahead of the first game at Suncorp Stadium.

The Maroons will lift the lid on their team on Monday night but despite some early optimism from the Broncos veteran, Thaiday has succumbed to an ongoing calf injury. Fairfax Media understands he originally told coach Mal Meninga he would be fit but has since pulled the pin after missing a month of football and failing to progress.

Queensland will likely swing South Sydney's Ben Te'o into the starting side to join Bunnies team-mate Chris McQueen in the backrow, although bench forward Matt Gillett would be just as capable given his quality form for club side Brisbane.

Maroons forward Sam Thaiday.

Maroons forward Sam Thaiday. Photo: Chris Hyde

Either way, it leaves a vacancy for Guerra, the 26-year-old from Townsville who will force his way into the 17 ahead of Brisbane's Josh McGuire, who was effective on Friday night against the Titans but couldn't produce the type of game to swamp his rivals.

Guerra, who has played for Italy, appeals to Maroons selectors with his rangy 104kg frame and has been under serious consideration for some time. His form for the Roosters was good enough to earn a tick of approval as Queensland continues its slow but steady regeneration of the playing stocks.

It was a near-thing for Raiders backrower Josh Papalii but his performance in a losing side against the Panthers will ensure he retains his position on the bench. He toiled hard for 121m and will be the beneficiary of the famed Maroons loyalty policy as the side tries to win its ninth series in succession.

The rest of the Queensland squad needs little introduction. The backline has started to hit red hot form at exactly the right time, with Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston all firing for their club sides ahead of the first interstate contest.

Darius Boyd's club form for the Knights will be of little concern given his devastating left-side combination with Greg Inglis, while veterans Justin Hodges and Brent Tate are certainties to line up for another crack at the Blues.

Daly Cherry-Evans shapes as the ultimate Mr Fix-It for the Maroons, playing off the bench in the forwards last year even though he is regarded as one of the best sevens in rugby league. It's a luxury Meninga enjoys given the NSW debate surrounding their halves and struggles of Mitchell Pearce, both off the field and in the Origin arena.

The fragility of Hodges and to a lesser extent Tate will see Will Chambers be named 18th man, while players like Anthony Milford and Manly prop Brenton Lawrence are likely to be around the squad at various stages throughout the three-game series.

Queensland (likely) Billy Slater, Darius boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles, Chris McQueen, Ben Te'o, Corey Parker. Interchange Daly Cherry-Evans, Josh Papalii, Matt Gillett, Aidan Guerra. 18th man Will Chambers

4 comments so far

  • Umm that Qldf side seems a bit short, in that only 12 starting players are named. Have they decided to take pity on NSW by handicapping themselves? ;)

    Seriously though, I think the name missing is their five eight, Jonathan Thurston.

    Sydney's West
    Date and time
    May 19, 2014, 12:19PM
    • Na there associated with Rugby League... They do well to count to 10

      Drugby Leaguie
      Date and time
      May 19, 2014, 6:17PM
    • @Drugby Leaguie, I won't bother calling the grammar police. There Their They're.

      Date and time
      May 20, 2014, 9:35PM
  • Gotta hand it to QLD selectors and their loyalty. Darius Boyd is struggling to hold his spot at Newcastle, but he's good enough for SOO. A quick look through the team shows a growing Dad's Army. The selectors haven't put much thought into any succession planning. But then why would they with the way NSW has played over the last eight series?

    The Dog
    Date and time
    May 20, 2014, 9:36AM

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