Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters looks on during a press conference to announce the team for game two of the State of Origin series in Brisbane, Monday, June 12, 2017.
Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters looks on during a press conference to announce the team for game two of the State of Origin series in Brisbane, Monday, June 12, 2017. AAP Image - Dan Peled

Matty Johns speculates on Queensland Origin conspiracy

BY NOW, everyone knows Queensland has gone from "pick and stick" to "slice and dice".

The Maroons have made a whopping seven changes ahead of Origin II from the team that succumbed 28-4 to NSW in the series opener.

Veteran forwards Sam Thaiday, Aidan Guerra, Nate Myles and Jacob Lillyman have all been dumped and Corey Oates and Justin O'Neill were both overlooked.

Billy Slater returns to fullback, Australian winger Valentine Holmes will make his Queensland debut and big boppers Jarrod Wallace, Coen Hess and Tim Glasby are all set to enter the Origin arena for the first time.

Gavin Cooper joins the back row and Johnathan Thurston takes the place of an injured Anthony Milford alongside Cooper Cronk in the halves.

It's a side many believe poses a much greater threat to the Blues than the one offered by an ageing pack and less dynamic backline in game one. But is it the side Queensland coach Kevin Walters wanted all along?

Newcastle and NSW legend Matthew Johns has floated the theory Walters was overruled by fellow Maroons selectors Darren Lockyer and Gene Miles at the selection table in the lead-up to game one, meaning the loyalty card was played when he wanted to inject fresh blood.

Speaking to Fox Sports after Queensland's team announcement, Miles said Walters phoned all the players who had missed out and it was he who wanted Holmes included at the expense of Corey Oates.

"Fortunately for me I didn't have to make them, the coach made them all," Miles said.

"Tough call (to drop Oates), really tough call. Kevvie's very keen to give him (Holmes) a crack at the big stage which we've got no doubt he'll handle."

Johns says Walters now has the troops he wanted from the outset, which is how it should always have been for the second-year Origin mentor.

Sam Thaiday has been punted.
Sam Thaiday has been punted. News Corp Australia

"It is clear to me now Kevvie Walters has got the side he wants," Johns said on the Triple M Grill Team. "There were rumours he'd been overruled in the selection process by Darren Lockyer and Gene Miles and when the side was announced ... (Miles) made a comment and he didn't look entirely happy, Gene, so I think Kevvie has got the side he wants.

"And Kevvie should get the side he wants because he's the one who gets the axe and Kevvie's side is a very strong side. They're going to be a handful.

"It's hard to see there but Gene, he was, I don't know ... for me there was a lot of talk in game one that Kevvie didn't get the side he wanted. For mine, Kevvie got the side he wants in game two.

"Miles didn't seem so enthusiastic."

Johns' Grill Team co-host, former NSW enforcer Mark Geyer, said Walters should always have been allowed to have the final say on who walked out onto the Suncorp Stadium turf two weeks ago.

"We all look back in retrospect now and think that side they (Queensland) picked in game one was so far behind the eight ball as far as our energy goes and form," Geyer said.

"We're talking about Kevvie Walters getting the team he wants and so he should, so he should.

"The selectors should be advisers, like the NSW selectors should be advisers to Laurie Daley. At the end of the day it's his nuts on the chopping block so if he wants to pick a side he wants, let him pick it. Same as Kevvie Walters, he should get the team he wants."

If Johns is correct and Walters was overruled, it proved to be a disastrous power play as those selected failed to impress and Queensland suffered its heaviest ever home defeat.

Geyer joked Miles may have been upset Oates - who is allegedly dating the Queensland selector's daughter - was snubbed.

"The only one who could feel a little left out is Gene Miles' future son-in-law, which is Corey Oates," Geyer laughed.

"That might have something to do with it," Johns added.

Corey Oates is unlucky to miss out.
Corey Oates is unlucky to miss out. News Corp Australia

Laurie Daley told NRL 360 on Monday he believes Queensland's new-look forward pack has greater leg speed and will have more of an impact around the middle of the field. Johns agrees, saying the new selections have been made with an eye to running over the top of the NSW big men who dominated in game one.

"They've picked a team to blow us apart, to try and blow us apart through the middle of the field," Johns said.

"Those little trick shots that Cronk, Smith and Slater come up with at Melbourne will be all the go, Thurston doing the same, Valentine Holmes appearing through the middle. They've picked a side that can blow a team apart through the middle."

Johns said the fresh faces highlight how wrong Queensland was to select so many out-of-form veterans in game one.

"I looked at this side and the side for game one, I was like, 'What were you thinking?'" Johns told Fox Sports on Tuesday.

"When I look at this side again I look back to game one and I just couldn't believe that's the side they picked when you look at the threat that this (new) side possesses," he said on the Grill Team.

After NSW's 24-point victory in Brisbane you could almost hear Blues supporters uncorking the champagne in anticipation of a second series win in 12 years. But Johns has warned Laurie Daley's men to be just as committed as they were in game one or else they'll suffer the consequences.

"Origins in Sydney at ANZ stadium are tighter, they're a more grinding affair. It's normally played through the middle," he said.

"That little bit of extra dew on the football means as a playmaker you can't get the ball in the hands and transfer it quite as quickly and hit the mark quite as easily.

"If NSW is any less desperate the defeat will be heavy. We've got to be every bit as desperate as we were in game one, if we're not they'll blow us apart."

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