Tom Gilbert will make his Queensland debut in the state of origin decider as Billy Slater resisted making sweeping changes ahead of the Brisbane clash.
Most important points:
- Jordan McLean replaces Payne Haas for NSW while Tom Gilbert replaces Felise Kaufusi for Queensland
- Haas played for the Broncos this weekend, but excluded himself from Origin
- The third and deciding Origin game will be played in Brisbane on July 13
As veteran second-rower Felise Kaufusi was unavailable for family reasons, Maroon selectors called North Queensland forward.
Gilbert’s Cowboys teammate Jordan McLean will make his debut for New South Wales with Jack Wighton named on the bench and Payne Haas missing due to injury.
Haas, who has been battling a recurring AC joint problem all season, played in the Broncos’ 40-26 loss to the Cowboys on Saturday.
Since then, he has again aggravated the injury and will not appear in the decider round on July 13.
McLean was part of the expanded squad for Origin II but has yet to earn NSW honors despite winning eight caps for Australia.
Gilbert has been named on the exchange bench, with fellow Cowboy Jeremiah Nanai promoted to base in Kaufusi’s absence.
Maroons selectors have also added another Cowboy in Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and up-and-coming Sydney Roosters playmaker Sam Walker to the roster, effectively replacing Corey Oates and Reece Walsh.
The Maroons were dominated last Sunday in a 44-12 loss in Perth, where they were given the chance to seal the series after an upset 16-10 win in Sydney.
However, Slater resisted any urge to tinker with his pack, or his youthful rear guard for the Lang Park clash.
Josh Papalii again starts on the front row. Wingers Murray Taulagi and Selwyn Cobbo have retained their spot, while back rower Nanai gets his chance to start after two quiet games off the bench this series.
Cameron Munster (shoulder) and Kalyn Ponga (concussion) have both been named for missing matches for their clubs over the weekend.
Kalyn Ponga, Selwyn Cobbo, Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Murray Taulagi, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans (capt), Lindsay Collins, Ben Hunt, Josh Papalii, Kurt Capewell, Jeremiah Nanai, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Harry Grant, Jai Arrow, Patrick Carrigan. Reserves: Tom Gilbert, Thomas Flegler, Tom Dearden, Beau Fermor, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Sam Walker
James Tedesco, Brian To’o, Matt Burton, Stephen Crichton, Daniel Tupou, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Jordan McLean, Apisai Koroisau, Jake Trbojevic, Cameron Murray, Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo, Damien Cook, Angus Crichton, Junior Paulo, Siosifa Talakai. Reserves: Jack Wighton, Nicho Hynes, Clint Gutherson, Jacob Saifiti, Reece Robson
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