State of Origin, Queensland Maroons team, Game II, Murray Taulagi, selections Billy Slater, Jai Arrow, Corey Oates, Beau Fermor, Reuben Cotter out

Queensland manager Billy Slater introduced Jai Arrow and Murray Taulagi to the Maroons squad for Game II.

Queensland travel to Perth confident they can return home with the series locked after a 16-10 win in Sydney, but two huge injuries threw a spanner in the works.

Young Cowboys gun Reuben Cotter suffered a Grade 2 hamstring injury in the Round 15 warmup, while Xavier Coates’ syndesmosis injury will keep him out for the rest of Origin.

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Cotter’s performance in the series opener was one of the best debuts in Origin history and his 80 minutes in the middle of the park will be sorely missed alongside Slater.

But Arrow and Taulagi hope to take over.

Jai Arrow will replace Cotter in the front pack, making a stunning return to the Origin Arena after breaking Covid restrictions in 2021 and receiving a two-match ban and a $35,000 fine.

Queensland brokers and Slater had a sit-down dinner with Rabbitohs gun which showed immense remorse for his actions.

Lindsay Collins will move from the starting side to the prop, moving Tino Fa’asuamaleaui to lock in, with Arrow starting on the bench.

“Jai Arrow will be one of the 17 in this camp and he had a group attitude in the first camp, obviously already played nine games for Queensland, he is very experienced in this area and we have the luxury of bringing him in to replace Ruben “said Slater.

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Meanwhile, Taulagi was rewarded for a strong start to the season with the Cowboys sitting third in the competition standings.

“He definitely earned his opportunity, he was one of our 22 at camp one and these guys weren’t here for an experience or a vacation, they were here because they were next,” Slater said.

“Murray was the first guy I thought of when Xavier went down, obviously the other guy was Hamiso (Tabuai-Fidow), he’s got a head injury so he won’t be able to be part of this week.

“But he certainly deserved his opportunity and was very close to playing in the first game to be honest.”

Slater was asked if the Cowboys combination had any bearing on his decision to pick Taulagi and the rookie coach explained that his decision was made solely on the young gun’s performance.

“It helps, it helps that Murray plays alongside Val (Holmes) every week, but that’s not why he’s in the team,” Slater said.

“He’s in the team because of his own actions and what he brings to the football team, so he just happens to be playing alongside Valentine.”

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Meanwhile, Broncos veteran Corey Oates was drafted into the team and Slater couldn’t speak more positively about the Maroons’ eight-game representative.

“Corey has been playing great this year, he’s played for Queensland before and to be honest I don’t know if I’ve seen Corey play better than he’s played this year,” Slater said.

“Once again he has earned his place in the 22 and we are a 22 man team, yes 17 will take the pitch on Sunday night as we are a 2022 team everyone contributes as they did in the first game and who knows what is happening around the corner.”

Young gun Reece Walsh has also been included in the Queensland squad and is unlikely to play.

Slater said the Warriors’ weapon upgrade this year was clear and it earned a spot on the extended bench as a result.

“Reece is here for his own actions, he deserves to be here, he was here last year,” Slater said.

“Unfortunately he strained his hamstrings on the captain’s run so he missed the chance to play for Queensland.

“But I’ve been really impressed with some of Reece’s game development throughout this season and can’t wait to get him.”

Queensland squad for Game 2:

1. Kalyn Ponga – Newcastle Knights

2. Selwyn Cobbo – Brisbane Broncos

3. Valentine Holmes – North Queensland Cowboys

4. Dane Gagai – Newcastle Knight

5. Murray Taulagi – North Queensland Cowboys

6. Cameron Munster – Melbourne Storm

7. Daly Cherry-Evans – Manly Sea Eagles

8. Lindsay Collins – Sydney Roosters

9. Ben Hunt – St George Illawarra Dragons

10. Josh Papalii – Canberra Raiders

11. Kurt Capewell – Brisbane Broncos

12. Felise Kaufusi – Melbourne Storm

13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui – Gold Coast Titans

14. Harry Grant – Melbourne Storm

15. Jai Arrow – South Sydney Rabbitohs

16. Patrick Carrigan – Brisbane Broncos

17. Jeremiah Nanai – North Queensland Cowboys

18. Tom Dearden – North Queensland Cowboys

19. Thomas Flegler – Brisbane Broncos

20. Beau Fermor – Gold Coast Titans

21. Corey Oates – Brisbane Broncos

22. Reece Walsh – Warriors

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Raymond I. Langston