Origin fever hits CQ
CENTRAL Queensland rugby league products Matt Scott and Dane Nielsen will join Queensland's pursuit of a sixth straight State of Origin series win, while Blackwater junior Dave Taylor was named as 18th man.
Scott, who hails from Ilfracombe in western Queensland and Mackay's Neilsen were yesterday named in Queensland coach Mal Meninga's 17-man squad for the series opener at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane on Wednesday, May 25.
Scott returns for his fourth year in the maroon jersey after making his debut during the 2006 Origin series, while Melbourne centre Nielsen replaces Greg Inglis while Broncos winger Jharal Yow Yeh celebrates an Origin call-up barely a fortnight after making his Test debut for Australia.
It is believed Inglis wanted to play but is expected to be ruled out for up to a month after again injuring the hip that required pre-season surgery.
Remarkably Nielsen, 25, had only racked up 42 first grade games since his 2008 NRL debut before getting the Origin call.
North Queensland-bred Nielsen looked overawed facing the huge media contingent in Brisbane yesterday but Meninga had no problem throwing him into the Origin deep end.
“He's a proud Queenslander. We would like GI (Inglis) and Hodgo (injured Broncos centre Justin Hodges) to be available but Dane's got almost 50 NRL games under his belt, he understands the culture growing up in Queensland. I've got the utmost faith in him,” Meninga said.
Yow Yeh is another Queensland rookie but Meninga believed the Brisbane flyer would hardly be fazed joining the Origin team after his international debut.
“He has already played for Australia and because of that understands a bit more about what rep football is about,” Meninga said.
“He will bring that experience behind him and he will also play well for Queensland.”
In-form Broncos lock Corey Parker has been recalled to the Queensland side after a six-year absence while New Zealand Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman is also back after three years on the Origin outer.
“It shows that if you play well for your club you get that opportunity again.
“I am so happy for them,” Meninga said of the pair.
“They have had a taste and now they have it again. It will make them better players for us I believe.
“I can't get the smiles off their faces. It is hard to get into that squad when Queensland is going so well but they forced their way through form.”