Queensland has opted for youth over experience, axing Matt Scott and Darius Boyd in their team for Origin I at the MCG.
With the rep-football retired Johnathan Thurston (37 games), Cameron Smith (42) and Cooper Cronk (38) plus Scott (22) and Boyd (28) out of the team, Queensland will be missing a combined 167 games of experience for the series opener on June 6.
In the named team, only Slater (29) and new captain Inglis (30) have played more than 10 games for the Maroons.
The new players include Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough, the Gold Coast Titans’ Jai Arrow and the Melbourne Storm’s Felise Kaufusi.
Coach Kevin Walters said it was a hard call to leave out Scott in particular.
“It’s very difficult, Scotty has been a great player, 22 appearances for Queensland,” Walters said.
“That’s the hardest part of my job, ringing them and letting them know they’re not in the team. The flip side is I get to ring the other players and let them know they are in the team.
“A very disappointing afternoon for a few of those boys … certainly from Scotty, he’s been playing some good football for the Cowboys but we just felt it is in the best interests of the team for game one to go without him.”
Scott was already facing trouble for game one, after being charged with a grade one shoulder charge offence – in the Cowboys’ 7-6 loss to the Storm – which brings with it a one-game suspension.
The Queensland announcement comes as NSW is expected to name 11 debutants as coach Brad Fittler brings sweeping changes to the Blues’ Origin lineup.
Squad: Billy Slater, Valentine Holmes, Greg Inglis, Will Chambers, Dane Gagai, Cameron Munster, Ben Hunt, Dylan Napa, Andrew McCullough, Jarrod Wallace, Gavin Cooper, Felise Kaufusi, Josh McGuire, Michael Morgan, Coen Hess, Josh Papalii, Jai Arrow.