Queensland Origin Contenders 2015: The Backs
We’re now just a month away from the Game One teams announcements, and with injuries, suspensions and form slumps wreaking havoc across the NRL already this year we might be in for a few surprises when the squads are finally named. We continue our look at the men competing for spots as we run the rule over Queensland’s injury-plagued backline.
This one is fairly straightforward – if Billy Slater returns to full fitness in time for Game One he’ll be there, if not it will be Greg Inglis. Should disaster strike and both men are unavailable, just about anything could happen here, but it would most likely open the door for a versatile livewire like Anthony Milford or Ben Barba.
Darius Boyd is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from an Achilles tear, but getting up for Game One would be a miracle. With Melbourne’s Will Chambers seemingly locked into one spot following a successful debut in Game Three last year and consistent performances at club level since, Boyd’s spot is likely to be filled by either Newcastle’s Dane Gagai or Bronco Dale Copley, with Gagai probably marginally ahead at the moment.
A possible dark horse is young Shark Valentine Holmes – he’s viewed by many as Slater’s long-term successor at the back, and while it might be a little early for him the Maroons do have a history of blooding talented backs on the wing – Slater, Inglis and Hodges all had the same initiation.
Greg Inglis and Justin Hodges are the incumbents, and if everyone’s fit they’ll be there again. However, Inglis could be forced into fullback should Slater fail to recover in time, while Hodges himself has struggled through hamstring issues that will keep him out of the Trans-Tasman test. Fortunately, the Maroons have plenty of depth here, with Chambers, Gagai and Copley all accomplished performers in the position.
Barring injury, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk will the 6 & 7 for the Maroons, so the real interest falls upon the bench role filled by Daly Cherry-Evans in recent times. While Cherry-Evans’s recent issues have been well-documented, his form hasn’t been all that terrible, and the Queensland selectors’ famous loyalty to incumbents could work in his favour.
However, many believe that Bronco Ben Hunt has surged ahead of him over the last 12 months, and his experience spelling Andrew McCullough at hooker would probably make him more suitable for the role. The Maroons could even surprise us all by putting Milford or Cowboy Michael Morgan here, but it seems unlikely at this stage.
Cover Image Source: www.roundeight.com
Nick Fray, Origin Online