Maroons stick to guns on selection
QUEENSLAND selectors deny they are sitting back smugly with their State of Origin side already pencilled in for a ninth straight series win, while NSW wrestles with selection dilemmas in several key positions.
While NSW coach Laurie Daley is still weighing up his options in key positions including fullback and the halves, Queensland's team almost picks itself.
Calls for Rabbitohs star Greg Inglis to switch to fullback, and Manly's Daly Cherry-Evans to be promoted to No.7 will fall on deaf ears with Maroon selectors unlikely to make more than one or two changes to coach Mal Meninga's 2013 squad.
The Melbourne Storm has not been performing as well as expected, leading to speculation fullback Billy Slater and halfback Cooper Cronk could come under pressure to hold their places for the opening game of the interstate series at Suncorp Stadium on May 28.
But Queensland chairman of selectors Des Morris scuttled those suggestions yesterday, as well as talk Queensland was sitting pretty two weeks out from naming its squad for the 100th Origin with so many of their stars - including Inglis and Johnathan Thurston - in tremendous early season form.
"Everyone is entitled to their opinions and I think it's good people are speculating about the team," Morris told APN yesterday.
"But we have to stick with what we know works.
"Like everybody in life, players have to bite the bullet, wait their turn, and take their opportunities.
"They're all good men and they all understand how the system works having been part of the squad for a few years now."
Morris said Slater's club form for Melbourne was still good enough to retain his Origin No.1 jumper despite the Storm's inconsistent form.
"I think it will be obvious if any player, not just Billy, loses form," he said.
"There are a lot of players pushing through like young Roosters forwards Dylan Napa and Aidan Guerra and Anthony Milford, and other guys have come into the system recently like Matt Gillett, Chris McQueen and Cherry Evans. It's been a quiet revolution with the team getting a bit older."
Morris, however, warned while things appeared to travelling nicely, he had been picking Queensland teams long enough to know it could quickly turn sour.
"Two weeks is a very long time in football," said Morris, who along with fellow selectors Gene Miles, Allan Smith and Darren Lockyer, will monitor this weekend's bumper round of NRL matches with the potential to change the fortunes of both states.
"There's always injuries or suspensions, especially when you don't want them, so you can never get too comfortable," he said.
"I wouldn't think there would be any major surprises, though, but you never know."