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NRL.com Selects Qld Maroons Team

MEETING THE BLUES: Queensland will name their Origin I side next week.
MEETING THE BLUES: Queensland will name their Origin I side next week.

NRL.com's team of journalists and producers have selected their Queensland Maroons teams for State of Origin I at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday, May 31. Find out who they've picked to take on the Blues and why.

NRL.com's combined Qld Maroons team: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Corey Oates/Valentine Holmes, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Jarrod Wallace,  9. Cameron Smith, 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Michael Morgan, 15. Sam Thaiday, 16. Jacob Lillyman, 17. Nate Myles.

Tony Webeck, Chief Queensland Correspondent
1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Corey Oates, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Dylan Napa, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. Josh Papalii, 11. Sam Thaiday, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Michael Morgan, 15. Jarrod Wallace, 16. Coen Hess, 17. Jacob Lillyman.

They're two of the best players in the game so you simply must select both Darius Boyd and Billy Slater and the best fit for the team would see Slater return to the No.1 jersey that he called his own for such a long time. His form for the Knights demands that Dane Gagai gets a shot in the centres, I've got the size of Corey Oates edging out the speed of Valentine Holmes on the wing but it's in the forwards where things get really interesting. With Corey Parker retired and Matt Scott unavailable I think it's time for an overhaul so I've overlooked one of the Maroons' greatest servants in Nate Myles. It's time to unleash Dylan Napa from kick-off alongside Josh Papalii with strong support off the bench in the form of Jarrod Wallace and Jacob Lillyman to shore up the middle. And Coen Hess? He's good enough so he's old enough in my books.

Eden Richards, Queensland Correspondent
1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Corey Oates, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Dylan Napa, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Josh Papalii, 11. Matt Gillett, 12. Sam Thaiday, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Michael Morgan, 15. Aidan Guerra, 16. Jacob Lillyman, 17. Jarrod Wallace. 

I was on the fence about moving Darius Boyd from fullback until I saw Billy Slater combine with Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith during the Melbourne Storm's Round 10 loss to the Gold Coast Titans. Their try was a thing of beauty and signalled that the 'big three' were officially back. Valentine Holmes and Justin O'Neill are the unlucky ones to miss out in the backline, but the form of Dane Gagai means he must be picked in the centres, and the return of Will Chambers is a no-brainer. For mine, Nate Myles hasn't done enough to deserve selection. Papalii and Napa are more than capable enough to start in the front row, while the experience of Aidan Guerra and Jacob Lillyman off the bench will be vital. Despite what some pundits say, Lillyman's form this year has been solid, averaging almost 140m per game in an inconsistent New Zealand Warriors side. Jarrod Wallace is the bolter and deserves a call-up after a stellar start to the season that has seen him average almost 150m per game and become the Gold Coast Titans' most consistent forward.

Dominic Brock, NRL.com Production Editor
1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Corey Oates, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Josh McGuire, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Matt Gillett, 12. Josh Papalii, 13. Sam Thaiday. Interchange: 14. Michael Morgan, 15. Jacob Lillyman, 16. Aidan Guerra, 17. Gavin Cooper.

Billy Slater has to come back into the side, and with Chambers and Gagai in the centres Brisbane have a lethal backline even without Greg Inglis. The forwards are trickier, where I've moved Napa and Papalii into the starting side and shifted Sam Thaiday to lock, with some experienced heads on the bench.

Adrian McMurray, NRL.com Presenter/Producer
1 Billy Slater, 2 Darius Boyd, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Corey Oates, 6 Johnathan Thurston, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Jacob Lillyman, 9 Cameron Smith (c), 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Josh Papalii, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14 Michael Morgan, 15 Sam Thaiday, 16 Nate Myles, 17 Jarrod Wallace.

With Billy Slater fit again, I’d have him back in the side pushing Darius Boyd to the wing. Valentine Holmes and Cameron Munster are the unlucky men to miss out across the backline. I’ve picked Dylan Napa to make his debut, along with Jarrod Wallace. If Johnathan Thurston isn’t fit in time for Game One I’d move Michael Morgan into the starting side.

Andy Bryan, NRL.com Deputy Editor
1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Dane Gagai, 4. Will Chambers, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Nate Myles 9. Cam Smith, 10. Dylan Napa, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Michael Morgan, 15. Sam Thaiday, 16. Jacob Lillyman, 17. Jarrod Wallace.

Two weeks ago I would have kept Darius Boyd at fullback, but Billy Slater has proven he is back to his best and Boyd's versatility and track record on the wing for Queensland means he makes the switch for the sake of the team. Michael Morgan will be the utility, while Nate Myles always does the job for the Maroons.

Martin Gabor, National Correspondent
1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Dylan Napa, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Jarrod Wallace, 11. Matt Gillett, 12. Sam Thaiday, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Michael Morgan, 15. Josh Papalii, 16. Coen Hess, 17. Nate Myles.

Darius Boyd might be the best fullback on the planet but the Kangaroos custodian will be shifted to the wing to make way for Billy Slater whose form has been a revelation after two injury-ravaged seasons. It's a risk going with a couple of rookies up front but Jarrod Wallace and Dylan Napa aren't the sort of guys who'll be overawed by the occasion. Wrecking ball Coen Hess takes Aidan Guerra's spot on the bench while veteran Nate Myles lines up for what will probably be his last series in maroon. 

Alicia Newton, National Correspondent
1 Billy Slater, 2 Darius Boyd, 3 Will Chambers, 4 Dane Gagai, 5 Valentine Holmes, 6 Johnathan Thurston, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Jarrod Wallace, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 Dylan Napa, 11 Josh Papalii, 12 Matt Gillett, 13 Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14 Michael Morgan, 15 Gavin Cooper, 16 Coen Hess, 17 Sam Thaiday.

With so much talk surrounding who will play fullback for the Maroons, does it even matter? Both Billy Slater and Darius Boyd will be in the side so I've gone with old times with Slater back to the custodian role. The back-row picks itself with Matt Gillett in barnstorming form while Jarrod Wallace deserves a call up after a strong start to the season. Blooding players at Suncorp Stadium as opposed to in Sydney has to be a much easier prospect for debutants so Coen Hess, Dylan Napa and Valentine Holmes should all be given that chance early on in the series. I cannot find a position for veteran Nate Myles who is struggling to retain a spot in the Sea Eagles line-up each week, while Jacob Lillyman also misses out. 

Chris Kennedy, National Correspondent
1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Will Chambers, 4. Dane Gagai, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Dylan Napa, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Nate Myles, 11. Josh Papalii, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange: 14. Michael Morgan, 15. Sam Thaiday, 16. Jarrod Wallace, 17. Coen Hess.

Let's be honest, this team mostly picks itself. The big question is whether Billy Slater returns at fullback to displace the man who has been arguably the best fullback in the world over the past two years in Darius Boyd. I say he has to – you wouldn't put Slater on a wing but Boyd has played most of his Origin career there. Give Billy one last series – he's certainly in form. Val Holmes makes a belated Origin debut on the wing in place of Corey Oates. With Greg Inglis injured, Chambers and Gagai have to be the centres. You could tweak the forward pack a little but with no Matt Scott or Corey Parker, the experience of Nate Myles (whose form looks to have returned this year) could be vital. I can't pick out-of-form Rooster Aidan Guerra so I've opted for young bull Coen Hess, despite his form easing somewhat after an explosive start to the year. The other props are Jarrod Wallace – who has had a blockbusting start to the year – plus Roosters firebrand Dylan Napa but Jacob Lillyman could just as easily come in for either. I assume Thurston will play but if his shoulder doesn't recover, a knee injury to Corey Norman leaves Daly Cherry-Evans as next in line (with Morgan to start).

This article first appeared on NRL.com

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