THE teams are in and the wait begins.

With State of Origin I at the MCG fast approaching, Kevin Walters has put his cards on the table and named his 17 to take on the Blues.

Here's five things we learned from the team announcement.

1) Queensland are loyal to form

Queenslanders love to talk about the Maroons loyalty policy, but part of what has shaped their dynasty is knowing just how far to take that loyalty.

In 2013, after Queensland lost Game I, David Shillington and Ashley Harrison got the bullet without a second's hesitation. Ditto for Sam Thaiday, Nate Myles and Justin O'Neill after Game I last year.

Walters is shooting for his third straight series win.
Walters is shooting for his third straight series win.

Overlooking Matt Scott and Darius Boyd would have been tough, as both of them could be selected in an all time Maroons side, but it was the right call. With the legends gone, there can be no margin for error and other players have been in better form than the exiled duo.

2) Ponga's time will come, but not yet

Calls for Kalyn Ponga to replace Billy Slater at the back were always deranged and Walters has opted to play the long game by omitting Ponga totally.

Michael Morgan has been in poor form but he can cover more positions than Ponga and many an Origin career has been crippled by too much, too soon. Judging by Walters' comments in the presser, Ponga's time will come.

It could even be this year if the Maroons are down 2-0 heading into Game III. But leaving him out for this one is the right move.

Leaving Ponga out was the right call.
Leaving Ponga out was the right call.

3) This is Ben Hunt's time

Ben Hunt hasn't been at his best over the last few weeks but his body of work over the course of the season was enough for him to secure an Origin spot.

It's a rich reward for the former Bronco, who spent time at hooker and in reserve grade last season. He may have made his Origin debut last year but this is a coronation for Hunt and his run-first style could work a treat.

4) All the pressure is on McCullough

Spare a thought for Jake Friend, who was waiting for Cameron Smith to retire from rep footy for what felt like a thousand years and now that Smith has finally walked away he's had the rug pulled put from under him.

Andrew McCullough has earned his place and been the better player for much of the season, but it will take a mighty effort to even come close to the poise and playmaking class of Smith.

With Hunt and Cameron Munster not known for their long-rang kicking McCullough will need to take a big role in that department from the jump.

McCullough will make his Origin debut after a decade in the NRL.
McCullough will make his Origin debut after a decade in the NRL.

5) Queensland's right side is their strong side

Queensland have one major matchup advantage if the Blues name the expected team on Monday night and that's on their right side.

Latrell Mitchell will be named at left centre with James Maloney on his inside and that's a contest the Maroons will be backing themselves to win every time.

Will Chambers is the best centre in the world and has been for some time while Kaufusi is an excellent line runner, especially off Billy Slater. Look for the Queenslanders to send plenty of traffic down that way early and often.



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