Queensland chose debutants Cameron Munster and Ben Hunt on Monday but left out the in-form Daly Cherry-Evans for next week’s State of Origin rugby league decider against New South Wales in Brisbane.
Munster, a stand-off with the Melbourne Storm, and Brisbane Broncos scrum-half Ben Hunt were the only changes for the Maroons, who courageously levelled the best-of-three game series with a fighting 18-16 win over the Blues in Sydney last month.
Test stars Johnathan Thurston and Darius Boyd are both unavailable for selection with injuries sustained in the second game.
Coach Kevin Walters said Hunt will start the July 12 match from the interchange bench and he will make a decision on Queensland’s new starting stand-off and centre.
A major omission from the team was Manly Sea Eagles scrum-half Cherry-Evans, with Walters stoutly defending his selection choices after Hunt was dropped to the Broncos reserve grade team a month ago.
“DCE’s (Cherry-Evans’) Origin career is well and truly alive,” Walters told reporters.
“He was disappointed (at missing selection) but he was most disappointed with the media and what was a pretty personal attack on him,” he said.
“And I agree with him. These rumours and nonsense, this hogwash about him not fitting into the set-up — it couldn’t be further from the truth.”
Counterpart Laurie Daley named an unchanged NSW squad for the final showdown.
Queensland: Billy Slater; Valentine Holmes, Will Chambers, Cameron Munster, Dane Gagai; Michael Morgan, Cooper Cronk; Dylan Napa, Cameron Smith (capt), Jarrod Wallace; Gavin Cooper, Matt Gillett; Josh McGuire. Interchange: Ben Hunt, Josh Papalii, Coen Hess, Tim Glasby.
NSW: James Tedesco; Brett Morris, Josh Dugan, Jarryd Hayne, Blake Ferguson; James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce; Aaron Woods, Nathan Peats, Andrew Fifita; Boyd Cordner (capt), Josh Jackson; Tyson Frizell. Interchange: David Klemmer, Wade Graham, Jake Trbojevic, Jack Bird.