Justin O'Neill
Justin O'Neill Matt King

Winners and losers from Maroons squad announcement

QUEENSLAND coach Kevin Walters has overlooked several stars including Billy Slater and picked Anthony Milford at No.6 ahead of the State of Origin series opener.

After a few shock omissions, form has counted for little, with Walters applying a pick and stick attitude towards his team.

Here are the biggest winners and losers for the Maroons after the selections for game one.


Nate Myles

He's under a slight injury cloud after taking a knock to his knee on the weekend but is expected to play next week.

The 31-year-old has rarely start for Manly this season and was even rested recently but still the Maroons are backing the forward to lift for the occasion.

With 31 Origins to his name, Myles is averaging 32 minutes this season for 75 running metres.


Johnathan Thurston
Johnathan Thurston DEAN LEWINS

Johnathan Thurston

He's being given every chance to make it onto the field after being named 18th man.

Battling a shoulder injury he picked up playing for Australia, Thurston is a slight chance of taking the field.

The fact Walters is giving him a chance to overcome injury to play next Wednesday sees him in the winners list.


Anthony Milford
Anthony Milford DAN HIMBRECHTS

Anthony Milford

He's one of the game's brightest talents and now he's on the verge of becoming a Queensland representative.

With Johnathan Thurston racing the clock to be fit for game one due to a shoulder complaint, Milford is the man Kevin Walters is trusting to fill the void if JT can't recover in time.

So much so, Milford has been named to start in the No.6.

It's an interesting move by the Maroons.

Milford leads the NRL competition in errors with 25 this season.

He has however set-up 12 tries for the Broncos and scored four himself in 2017.

Despite a slow start to the season, a new contract with Brisbane has settled Milford's future and allowed him to focus on footy once again.

Justin O'Neill

Unable to make the Kangaroos Test team a few weeks earlier, the Cowboys centre has been retained by the Maroons.

Previously a member of Queensland's Emerging Origin side, O'Neill played in all three games last year.

The 26-year-old has hardly been a standout at club level this season, with just one line break, eight tackle busts and an average of 70 run metres per game.

He's also yet to score a try this season.

Aidan Guerra

Averaging just 49 minutes, the equal lowest amount of minutes he's ever played in his eight-year NRL career, Guerra has hardly set the world on fire this season.

Averaging 85 run metres, the 29-year-old can count himself lucky to get the nod ahead of the likes of Coen Hess.

A one-time Kangaroo, Guerra has nine Origins to his name with three of those coming last year despite being benched by the Roosters and even dropped to reserve grade.

Corey Oates

The 22-year-old was brilliant in Brisbane's thrashing of the Wests Tigers last week in a performance which almost certainly cemented his place in the team.

Despite calls from Test coach Mal Meninga to go with Valentine Holmes ahead of the incumbent Maroons winger, Walters has stood by the towering flyer.

With his body built more like a backrower, Oates not only provides tough carries out of trouble but height when contesting bombs.

He's made 28 tackle busts, eight line breaks and scored five tries, while averaging a whopping 169 running metres this season.



Valentine Holmes
Valentine Holmes DAN HIMBRECHTS

Valentine Holmes

Is crazy to think you can be playing a Test for Australia this year, be injury free, in good form and yet be overlooked for your state side.

That's the Cronulla fullback's reality.

Holmes was considered by most experts a certainty to claim a flank in game one.

But after he was frozen out of last year's series due to breaking curfew in an Emerging Maroons camp, Holmes opened the door for Corey Oates.

And the big unit from the Broncos has now blocked the path for Holmes to debut in the Origin arena.


Billy Slater
Billy Slater PAUL MILLER

Billy Slater

He's back in the NRL and looking every bit his brilliant self yet Slater was the biggest surprise of the selection announcement when he was overlooked.

Electric at fullback for the Storm, Slater was heavily tipped to not only return to the Maroons mix but unseat Darius Boyd at the back.

Not only did he miss out on the No.1 jersey but he's missed the team all together.

The 33-year-old will forever be known as one of the greats.

With 27 Origins to his name, Slater's NRL career is uncertain beyond this season and now an Origin swansong looks unlikely.

Coen Hess

There's no denying the 20-year-old is an Origin player of the future. Hess, better known as the 'Loch-Hess monster' to his opposition is a barnstorming powerhouse.

Since making his NRL debut in 2015, Hess has declared himself a genuine first grader.

Capable of starting or providing punch off the bench, it's not uncommon to see the 110 kilo wrecking ball carrying three blokes on his back as he powers over the line.

Talk of Hess' run for an Origin bench spot started early in the season and while his impact in recent weeks has diminished, the big unit still averages 60 minutes per game.

Cameron Munster

Banned from selection last year due to breaking curfew when in camp as part of the emerging Origin squad, Munster has been in fine form this season.

In a new position, five-eighth, the 22-year-old has looked at home in the halves alongside Cooper Cronk.

With Johnathan Thurston in doubt (shoulder), you could be forgiven for thinking Munster would loom as a logical replacement in the halves due to the combination he has with Cronk and Cameron Smith at club level.

A natural footy player who could cover several positions, Munster misses out due to the inclusion of Anthony Milford.

Jarrod Wallace

He's in career best form but it wasn't enough for a call up ... even on the bench.

On the verge of being called into the team, Wallace has to settle for being brought into camp later in the week to experience it as a shadow player.

Since leaving Brisbane, the 25-year-old has not only become a starter but one of the most consistent players in the Gold Coast side.

Doubling his average game time, Wallace now punches out around 60 minutes each week

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