Maroons Activate 'Plan B'
The Queensland Maroons have activated 'Plan B' in their quest to keep the 2017 State of Origin series alive, making seven changes to the side that was thrashed 28-4 in Game One.
The injured Anthony Milford is out of the side, while Queensland veterans Aidan Guerra, Jacob Lillyman, Sam Thaiday and Nate Myles have all been axed from the forward pack.
But that isn't where the changes end, with a new-look backline set to run out onto the field on June 21 following the omission of both Corey Oates and Justin O'Neill.
Maroons greats Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston are back, and Gavin Cooper will return to the second row after making his Origin debut in 2016.
Four Queenslanders will debut for the Maroons in Game Two, with Coen Hess, Tim Glasby, Jarrod Wallace and Valentine Holmes all set to pull on the famous jersey for the first time.
It's a changing of the guard for Queensland and coach Kevin Walters said although it was hard to overlook some of the state's most loyal servants, it needed to be done.
"It was tough, especially for the players who have been here for a long period," Walters said.
"Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Jacob Lillyman and Aidan Guerra have all been long-term players for Queensland. But with our recent results we felt there was a need for change.
"We picked a team in Game One that won last year's series and the majority of those players were afforded the luxury to perform in Game One.
"We didn't get the result that Queensland needed to have so Gene [Miles], Darren [Lockyer] and myself went to Plan B. That was always going to be in our plans.
"We needed to bring some new players into the team that haven't played Origin.
"I think the transition period for Queensland is right now so we feel the time is right to introduce that some new players that will benefit Queensland rugby league and State of Origin."
Perhaps the unluckiest Maroon to be overlooked is Brisbane Broncos winger Oates who has not put a foot wrong in his four-game Origin career.
Queensland's only try-scorer in Game One, Oates ran for 158 metres and made seven tackle breaks in one of the better individual performances in a well-beaten side.
But it wasn't enough, with Walters deciding to go with the speed of Holmes instead of the metre-eating abilities of Oates.
"It was hard leave him out of the side," Walters said of Oates.
"He's had four very good games for Queensland, but we felt the time was right for Valentine Holmes.
"Valentine's the current Australian winger so leaving him on the sidelines was not the right option for us for Game Two.
"Corey will get his opportunity again at this level.
"Corey is a bigger body but Valentine is a genuine winger. Corey has been a winger that has been manufactured over time.
"With his size and the way he plays the game he's probably more suited to the forwards, but he's made a fist of it on the wing.
"We just think Valentine is a genuine speedster who deserves an opportunity at the next level."
Another who will be given this same opportunity is Tim Glasby.
Glasby is the definition of an Origin bolter, with his selection seemingly coming out of nowhere.
His no-frills style of play has seen him picked over Origin hopefuls Ethan Lowe, Korbin Sims, Felise Kaufusi and Scott Bolton, with his hard-working demeanour exactly what Queensland need in the front row for Game Two.
The Melbourne prop has benefited immensely from working under Craig Bellamy at the Storm, and Walters, who was an assistant coach at the Storm from 2011 to 2013, said the reputation of the Storm helped aid Glasby's Origin selection.
"Tim is in a good system at the Storm. He's been working really hard and his club form has been exceptional," Walters said.
"He played in the grand final at ANZ Stadium last year so he's no stranger to a big game.
"It adds a good balance to our bench and is a much-improved bench compared to Game One.
"Tim is in the best defensive system in the country at the Melbourne Storm. They've proven that over the last 10 years.
"We feel that we were lacking in that area in Game One and Tim will bring a lot of that and then some in Game Two."
This article first appeared on NRL.com