Queensland is confident Cameron Munster will be ready to play in the State of Origin decider on Wednesday, but the Maroons will have to do without young gun Xavier Coates at Lang Park.
- Corey Allan, Harry Grant, Brenko Lee and Edrick Lee will all make their Origin debuts
- Coach Wayne Bennett is confident five-eighth Cameron Munster will be good to go
- But winger Xavier Coates has failed to prove his fitness after picking up a groin injury in game two
Munster has passed all of his concussion protocols after his game two head knock and, barring any setbacks, will line up in the number six jersey against New South Wales.
The Melbourne playmaker’s inclusion is a big plus for the Maroons, who felt his absence after he was taken off the field just three minutes into last week’s 34-10 loss to the Blues in Sydney.
“He’s one of the top three players in the team,” Queensland coach Wayne Bennett said.
“There’s no doubt about that.
“We missed him a lot and we’re pleased we’ve got him back.”
Munster’s big-game experience will be welcome, as Queensland potentially go into the match with four debutants.
South Sydney’s Corey Allan and Harry Grant had already been selected to make their Origin bows, with Bennett confirming on Tuesday that Brenko Lee would also make his first Maroons’ appearance.
Lee, who missed games one and two with a calf strain, will play centre, with Kurt Capewell shifting to the back row and Jaydn Su’A dropping to the interchange bench.
Game two debutant Dumanis Lui misses out after originally being named in Queensland’s 17.
Bennett had rated winger Xavier Coates as a 50-50 chance to play as he battled a groin issue, but he has now been ruled out.
Another first-gamer — Newcastle’s Edrick Lee — will come in to the side.
Souths coach Bennett confirmed Allan would play at full-back, with Valentine Holmes to move to the wing in a bid to nullify the influence of Blues star Josh Addo-Carr, who has scored back-to-back doubles in this year’s series.
“It’s obviously a big test but he answered all those for the last two years at Souths with how he’s come and played on the wing,” Bennett said of Allan’s debut in the number one jersey.
“He wasn’t a winger. We made him play there and he handled it well.
“He came in at full-back after Latrell (Mitchell) got injured and did a great job for us there.
Queensland will have to defy history to win the series, with no Origin team rebounding from conceding 30 points in a match to claim the shield.
Bennett said his young team had shown in their game one performance they had the ability to beat NSW, it was just a matter of being mentally up to the task.
“That’s the key to it. We got it right in Adelaide in the second half there,” he said.
“We played the way we wanted to play and we went off the pace in Sydney. There’s no doubt about that, and they put us off the pace as well.
“They played a really good game of football, and they maximised their strengths and we found all our weaknesses.
“So tomorrow will be as much mental as it is physical.”