State of Origin 2017: Canberra Raiders star Josh Papalii to take on a big role

State of Origin 2017: Canberra Raiders star Josh Papalii to take on a big role

Canberra Raiders second-rower Josh Papalii was supreme in the State of Origin series opener and could find himself with an even bigger role to play in game two.

Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters swung the axe when naming his side for the do-or-die clash with New South Wales at ANZ Stadium on June 21.

Josh Papalii could shift into Queensland's front-row for Origin II.

Josh Papalii could shift into Queensland's front-row for Origin II.Credit:Getty Images

Walters dropped a trio of experienced forwards, meaning Papalii will have to shoulder some more responsibility and guide his new teammates into the Origin furnace.

The softly spoken Maroons enforcer could shift into the front row as the Maroons undergo sweeping changes in the forward pack, which also make him one of the squad's most experienced members.


The move means Papalii will be charged with the task of shutting down the Blues' middle men - the same men that tore the Maroons apart in game one.

The Raiders forward could lock horns with Blues powerhouse Andrew Fifita, who made the most of his recall to the representative scene in the Anzac Test earlier this year.

Papalii missed that clash due to a drink driving conviction, but both players have become leaders on the paddock through their actions, setting up a tantalising Origin battle.

It could become one of the game's more interesting subplots, with Fifita looking nearly unstoppable in the Blues' 28-4 victory in game one.

Queensland will be without veteran Sam Thaiday after he was denied the chance to play his 30th Origin match.

Thaiday's isn't the only familiar face that will be missing from Queensland camp, with Nate Myles and Jacob Lillyman's Origin careers in the balance after they were left out of Walters' 17-man squad on Monday.

Gold Coast Titans prop Jarrod Wallace has been named despite facing a ban for a shoulder charge, Melbourne's Tim Glasby adds some more size to the middle - an area dominated by the Blues in game one.

Walters named the team in alphabetical order on Monday and is set to finalise his starting 13 once players are in camp, but Papalii is expected to start - albeit in a different position - after an impressive showing in game one.

North Queensland young gun Coen Hess has been included to make his Origin debut, while starting prop Dylan Napa has just one cap to his name.

Only skipper Cameron Smith and Matt Gillett have made more Origin appearances than Papalii, who has seven, in Queensland's forward pack.

It elevates the humble Canberra forward to somewhat of a leader in the Maroons squad as they look to force the three-game series to a decider.

Papalii's possible move into the middle to combat NSW's barnstorming forwards could see him emulate the likes of Petero Civoniceva, who started his Queensland career in the back-row before pushing his way to the front of the scrum.

Civoniceva was a cornerstone in the Queensland dynasty, playing in six consecutive series victories before hanging up the boots.

Papalii's seven Origin games have been spread across four series, with the game one boilover the 25-year-old's second taste of defeat in a maroon jersey.

How Queensland will likely line up: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Will Chambers, Dane Gagai, Valentine Holmes, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Dylan Napa, Cameron Smith (c), Josh Papalii, Gavin Cooper, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire. Interchange: Michael Morgan, Coen Hess, Jarrod Wallace, Tim Glasby.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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