The Maroons sealed yet another State of Origin shield in a 2-1 series win last year, making it 11 wins in the last 12 years, but with a renewed vigour amongst the New South Wales camp and the likes of Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston calling time on their illustrious careers for Queensland, coach Kevin Walters and the selectors could spring a surprise or two when the side is named next weekend.
With that in mind, we take a look at three players who were selected last season, but may not make the cut for game one 2018.
1 Darius Boyd
While dumping Darius Boyd from the side might be a controversial call, it’s hard to see how he should keep his place when Billy Slater is the obvious choice at fullback and outside backs like Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai and Will Chambers are vying for berths in the centres and on the wings while Greg Inglis looms as a sure-fire selection in the number three jersey and as a likely skipper.
Boyd has been a faithful servant to the Maroons for a long time, notching up 28 appearances since his debut way back in 2008 but on current form, he’s too far down the pecking order to command a position and selection loyalty will only take a player so far in the modern game.
It will be a bold call for Walters and the selectors to make, but it’s looking increasingly likely Darius Boyd might be watching game one of the series at home on the couch like the rest of us.
2 Coen Hess
The big North Queensland enforcer is the prototype forward built for the intensity and aggression of the Origin arena, but on current form, Coen Hess is battling to make the cut for the Queensland side.
The Cowboys have suffered a torrid 2018 campaign so far and Hess has been amongst the most recognisable stars to see his performances slip, making it unlikely he’ll get a run out given the form of alternate options like Gold Coast Titan’s star Jai Arrow, who has been very impressive this season.
Melbourne pair Felise Kaufusi and Tim Glasby seem like safe inclusions while it is expected Walters will show faith in the under-performing Josh Papalii and give the Canberra enforcer another opportunity to show his worth in the Origin arena.
With too many forwards sticking their hand up and playing good footy, Coen Hess may find himself the odd man out.
3 Gavin Cooper
This may be the most controversial call of the lot, but has Gavin Cooper really done enough in a bad Cowboy’s side to warrant selection?
A lack of genuine contenders for the back-row positions may be his saving grace, but Cooper is fast-becoming a fading force at the highest level of the game and won’t have the usual benefit of running outside Johnathan Thurston this time around.
I fully expect Cooper to make the cut when Walters announces his side, but I’m not entirely convinced he’s done enough to earn it.
Do you think Darius Boyd, Coen Hess or Gavin Cooper should be in the Queensland side? Let us know in the comments below.
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