As Queensland selectors again look set to play the loyalty card, Cowboys coach Paul Green has urged his Maroons hopefuls not to drop their heads if they miss out on the State of Origin opener.
Green believes there may still be opportunities for fringe Maroons like North Queensland’s Michael Morgan and Gavin Cooper this series even if they are overlooked, as expected, for May 27’s Origin I.
Morgan had been touted as the man to leapfrog Manly playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans for Queensland’s utility bench spot after a dazzling NRL season start as Cowboys pivot.
And Cooper has again been strong for North Queensland after having his Origin hopes dashed last year by a hip injury.
Green did not have to be told Queensland would not make huge changes to their team named next week but hoped his players did not give up on their Origin dream.
“If they miss out this week a lot can happen in footy – Origin is over three games,” he said.
“Traditionally the Maroons have stuck solid with guys who have done the job in the past.
“But if some of our guys on the fringe miss out it is important that they don’t get too disappointed because a lot can happen, particularly over an Origin series.”
Morgan and Cooper get their last chance to impress Queensland selectors before Origin I in Friday night’s derby clash with the Broncos in Townsville.
Green is still resigned to losing captains Johnathan Thurston and Matt Scott to Queensland and Test prop James Tamou to NSW.
But Green said ex-Test forward Ben Hannant had already shown what would be expected from his fringe Cowboys during the representative period.
With veteran forward Scott Bolton (hand) and Kiwi Test back-rower Jason Taumalolo (knee) sidelined, Hannant found another gear to notch 131m and 23 tackles off the bench in their last round 23-16 win over the Bulldogs.
“Losing Scott Bolton and Jason Taumalolo we needed guys like Benny to step up,” Green said.
“He will need to do it again playing against his old club (Brisbane).
“I am sure he will be looking to impress.”