Meninga looking to the past for Queensland's future success

Dylan Napa
Dylan Napa

QUEENSLAND coach Mal Meninga says loyalty will continue to be a major factor when selectors next month name a 17-man squad charged with reclaiming the State of Origin shield from NSW.

A number of players are battling injury and in Daly Cherry-Evans' case, playing for a club sadly out of form and jeopardising his Origin selection prospects.

But Meninga said past campaigns would work in favour of the players, particularly Cherry-Evans.

"His club (Manly) is not going well at the moment, but if he (Cherry-Evans) is healthy, he is going to be in the mix," Meninga said. "We've relied on him in the past and he hasn't let us down and we're loyal in that sense."

Meninga has a number of key players on the injured list at the moment, including Storm fullback Billy Slater (shoulder), Brisbane centre Justin Hodges (hamstring) and Bronco Darius Boyd (Achilles).

He said all would be given the opportunity to play in game one of the 2015 Origin series in Sydney on May 27.

"If Billy and Hodgo or even Darius are back and able to play, they'll all be part of the team," Meninga said.

"We played against a very committed NSW side last year but I was very happy with the way we finished off the series with the players we had and the team won't change too much."

The coach also has to find a replacement for retired winger Brent Tate and also fill a spot on the bench vacated by Ben Te'o's switch to rugby union.

He conceded young Roosters hit man Dylan Napa and Brisbane front-rower Josh McGuire were two players who would come under notice.

"There's obviously a wing spot for Tatey, who has retired, but Will Chambers handled that pretty well with one of the best debuts you'd want from a player," Meninga added. "We'll see how Darius (Boyd) goes but young Dane Gagai is going great for the Knights and deserves and opportunity and there could be some spots on the bench, we don't know."

Meninga said Napa was "going great".

"He's been part of our emerging squad for a few years," he said.

"We've identified him and he played in our 20s squad last year and did really well.

"He's aggressive, big and has got good mobility so he'll be an asset for the team when he is ready.

"McGuire is also going great and so are the Broncos."

Brisbane could supply a number of players for Origin 1 if it keeps winning, with Hodges, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker, Matt Gillett and Ben Hunt as a bench utility.

Topics:  daly cherry-evans mal meninga nrl nrl2015 state of origin

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