Meninga, Walters can't agree on Maroons selection move

Justin Hodges, Kevin Walters and Mal Meninga promoting Rugby League Double Header at Suncorp Stadium.

Photo: News Corp Australia
Justin Hodges, Kevin Walters and Mal Meninga promoting Rugby League Double Header at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: News Corp Australia

MAL Meninga tossed it up, Kevin Walters shot it down.

Queensland Origin speculation is in overdrive in the wake of Billy Slater's impressive return to the NRL and Johnathan Thurston's unfortunate shoulder injury.

Slater, who has played 22 games at fullback for the Maroons, faces a battle to regain his No.1 jersey with incumbent custodian Darius Boyd in career best form.

Meanwhile, a host of talent is lining up to play five-eighth with Thurston sidelined for anywhere between three and six weeks.

Australia coach Meninga has thrown up a possible solution to solve both of Queensland mentor Walter's selection headaches.

"Billy's back playing near his best and hopefully he'll continue to improve in the next couple of weeks," Meninga said at Fox League's promotion of Saturday's Suncorp double header.

"We know how great a player Billy is and we know how great a player Darius is ... I would suggest at this stage both could be in there.

"(Boyd) can play a number of positions including six. That could be a position the Broncos could see him playing down the track, so it could be an opportunity for him to play six at representative level as well.

"He's such a great player with great skill and great nous, he could play a number of positions which is handy for any team and any coach. He can make a difference in all those positions."

 

Kevin Walters, Darius Boyd, Mal Meninga and Justin Hodges promoting Rugby League Double Header.
Photo: News Corp Australia
Kevin Walters, Darius Boyd, Mal Meninga and Justin Hodges promoting Rugby League Double Header. Photo: News Corp Australia

But Walters doesn't share the same view.

When asked whether he'd entertain Meninga's suggestion of moving Boyd into the No.6 jersey, he replied: "Is Mal throwing tricks out? What's he doing here?

"He would do a great job in there, but I think we've got enough specialist five-eighths at the moment that could do a terrific job for Queensland and probably deserve an opportunity in that role given that they've been waiting, some of them for several years."

The likes of Michael Morgan, Anthony Milford, Daly Cherry-Evans and Corey Norman are all in the running to fill in for Thurston should he not recover in time for Origin I.

"If it's a 100-metre sprint, they're all in-line," Walters said.

"Michael would be one that comes to mind. He's been on the interchange for Queensland in that No.14 role for a couple of years, but I guess if something did happen to John I'd be comfortable with him in the No.6 jersey.

"DCE and Milford, it's also a big opportunity for them. Corey Norman has put his hand up as well given his form over the past month.

"We have got some good options there if the great Johnathan Thurston doesn't play and we'll cross that bridge if we have to.

 

Johnathan Thurston
Johnathan Thurston MICHAEL CHAMBERS

"Ideally we want Johnathan playing but if he doesn't there's some really good young Queensland players that will get an opportunity to show their wares."

Walters said he'd be giving Thurston every chance to recover from his shoulder concern, and said the veteran Test and Origin star wouldn't need to prove his fitness in the lead-up by playing an NRL game.

"I think Johnathan's at an age and a place in his career where he can come into games like he showed in the Anzac Test.

"He hadn't played for several weeks and he was one of Australia's best players.

"He's a type of player than can go into a big game like Origin without too much in the legs."

Walters, Meninga and other stars from Fox League's Queenslanders Only were in Brisbane on Wednesday to rally Queenslanders to get behind their team in this Saturday's Suncorp Stadium double header.

Led by Meninga, the rugby league greats started building a wall, described by the Kangaroos coach as "a symbol of Queensland's greatness."

"It will stop inferiors - namely New South Welshmen, joining our great state. We will make league great again," Meninga said.

QUEENSLANDERS ONLY

To celebrate the biggest NRL fixture on the Queensland calendar, Saturday's double header at Suncorp, Fox League has launched a 'Queenslanders Only' competition.

Join the movement by sharing a photo on social media and explaining 'why you think Queensland is better' to win the ultimate Fox League Grand Final Week experience - make sure you include the hashtag #QLDERSONLY to go in the running to win.

Go to www.foxsports.com.au/qldersonly for more.

News Corp Australia


Gallery: Fawns take to the field on historic day

Gallery: Fawns take to the field on historic day

'On Friday they finally got to play their first real game'

Why this loved up Gympie couple are in the minority.

Why this loved up Gympie couple are in the minority.

'I said to my mum I just want to get married'

BREAKING: Reports pedestrian hit at Tin Can Bay

BREAKING: Reports pedestrian hit at Tin Can Bay

Emergency crews are on their way to Tin Can Bay

Local Partners