NRL and NSW Blues legend Andrew Johns believes that the Queensland Maroons are pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes when it comes to their team selection for Game One on Wednesday.
The Queensland No. 1 jersey has been a merry-go-round of sorts in terms of who will line up in that position.
First, it was Knights star Kalyn Ponga. However, a groin injury put any idea of the 23-year-old starting the Origin opener to bed, and saw him officially ruled out on Wednesday.
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The next logical options for the Cane Toads became the Titans’ AJ Brimson or the Cowboys’ man of the moment, Valentine Holmes.
Brimson hobbled off injured in the Gold Coast’s loss to the Cronulla Sharks with bone bruising, and didn’t train with the Maroons on Thursday.
That leaves the gate wide open for the former NFL hopeful Holmes to swoop in and claim the fullback position for game one all to himself.
But according to Johns, it’s all just a big smokescreen.
Johns believes Queensland will have a shock team selection for Game One.Source:Getty Images
Speaking on WWOS’ Immortal Behaviour, Johns claimed that Paul Green’s side is planning on utilising the element of surprise for their team news at the last minute.
“There’s talk that Valentine Holmes might come in at fullback,” Johns said.
“I think they might go the other way.
“Brimson was really strong last year at fullback, especially in Adelaide, he had a big game there, so I think they might go with Brimson at fullback.”
Johns also highlighted the importance of Ponga to the Maroons’ side and just how much the side would miss him in the opening clash.
“It really affects them,” said Johns.
“He creates so much at fullback, he’s that second wave in attack, he combines well down that left side with Munster, so he’s a massive out.”
Ponga will miss Game One with a niggling groin injury.Source:Getty Images
Both Brimson and Holmes had their chance to audition for the starting berth in the Origin series last year.
The Gold Coast star played out of his skin in game one as Queensland overturned a 10-0 halftime deficit to emerge victorious, but a foot injury kept him out of the remainder of the series.
Holmes took the fullback spot in game two, but ended up on the losing side of a 34-10 scoreline.
He was subsequently shifted out onto the wing for the decisive clash that saw the Maroons defy the odds and reclaim the shield for the first time since 2017.
It seems that Brimson will be given every chance to be fit and firing for kick off in Townsville, but fans wouldn’t be surprised should Holmes run out with the No. 1 jersey on his back.
Game one kicks off in Townsville on Wednesday 9 June at 8:10pm AEST.
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