Slater supports Maroons rookies to give Origin glory

With no worries about Billy Slater throwing his swords at the Origin Arena, the new Queensland coach has backed his new blood to succeed despite their relative lack of experience.

In the Maroon squad announced this morning, four newcomers to the starting 17 and two more on the extended bench, Broncos star Selwyn Cobo and Pat Carrigan are ready to make their debuts, including Jeremiah Nanai, Ruben Cutter, Tom Deirden’s four North Queensland Cowboys. And Murray Toulagi.

“They have chosen themselves,” Slater said. “They decide if they are doing well enough to play for Queensland.

“We are fortunate enough to have a team of Queenslanders who are eligible to play for Queensland this year, and we have chosen a team of 22 members that I feel comfortable with playing any of them next Wednesday night.”

“It simply came to our notice then. We went with Xavier Coates and Selwyn Cobbo, we felt that their performance gave them a chance in their first game so we went there.

“Murray has built an extended squad and is at 22, which is a great reward for his development, and I think, a reward for the Cowboys and the way they are going.

“The Cowboys who made the squad must have contributed, and Murray is one of them.

“Corey Oats is another guy I’ve been really impressed with this year, and if we throw him a jersey, we’ll have full confidence he can do something for us.”

Carrigan is the most experienced of the 17 starting with 54 NRL appearances. Cotter has 31, Cobbo 19 and Nanai only 16 in the top grade at a season low price. In fact, Nanai only made her debut in Round 22 last year.

“He grew up in Cairn, just over an hour from where I grew up,” he said. “He is a good young man and his performance has brought him his jersey.

“It’s not just about kicking and trying to score, he’s doing a lot for his team. He has made 51 tackles over the weekend in a tough environment in Penrith. He’s got a little bit of determination and he’s the kind of guy I’m really looking forward to. “

Queensland fullback Kallin Ponger has also been named, with Newcastle star holding his place over New Zealand Warriors’ Rees Walsh.

“We hope Kalin will be his best and it is part of our job to help him spend that best football,” said Slater, a former Maroon fullback himself.

“We know what Kalin is capable of, he’s a tough guy and football and Queensland are important to him. I feel comfortable with No. 1 Kalin.

“I don’t think I’m worried about anyone. The activities of the players will determine whether they want to play for Queensland. Although Kalin’s team is not playing very well, Kalin’s efforts have never been questioned.

“If the effort goes away, you start asking questions, but I don’t see any effort that would stop me from picking him.”

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