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Slater, Thurston return; Maroons make 7 changes for Origin 2

Associated Press logo Associated Press 12/06/2017

BRISBANE, Australia — Billy Slater has been recalled at fullback and Johnathan Thurston has overcome injury to return as playmaker in a Queensland squad that has undergone its biggest shakeup in a generation after losing the State-of-Origin series opener to New South Wales.

Queensland, which has won 10 of the last 11 series, on Monday made seven changes to the Maroons squad which lost 28-4 in Brisbane last month, with four veteran forwards dropped to make way for the likes of rookies Coen Hess, Jarrod Wallace and Tim Glasby.

Hours later, New South Wales announced an unchanged lineup for the second match, with Boyd Cordner against picked to lead the Blues despite missing a weekend club match to rest an injured knee.

The Queensland backline has been reshuffled to accommodate Slater's return, with Darius Boyd expected to shift to the left wing in place of Corey Oates and Valentine Holmes earning an Origin debut on the right wing that was made vacant by Dane Gagai's shift into the centers. Justin O'Neil and Oates were dropped and injured five-eighth Anthony Milford made way for Thurston, who was a late withdrawal from the series opener because of a shoulder injury.

Forwards Nate Miles, a veteran of 32 Origin matches, Jacob Lillyman, Sam Thaiday and Aidan Guerra were dropped for the second game in Sydney on June 21.

"We didn't get the result that we needed to have. We went to plan B, which was always in our plans, to bring some new players in," Maroons coach Kevin Walters said. "The transition period for Queensland is right now. It's not next year, or the year after.

"We just picked 17 players who we feel are the best 17 for Queensland."

Gold Coast prop Wallace will face the National Rugby League judiciary after being citing for a shoulder charge in the Titans' weekend loss to the New Zealand Warriors.

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Squads:

Queensland: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Will Chambers, Dane Gagai, Valentine Holmes, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk; Dylan Napa, Cameron Smith (captain), Josh Papalii, Gavin Cooper, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire. Interchange: Michael Morgan, Tim Glasby, Coen Hess, Jarrod Wallace.

New South Wales: James Tedesco, Brett Morris, Josh Dugan, Jarryd Hayne, Blake Ferguson, James Maloney, Mitchell Pearce; Aaron Woods, Nathan Peats, Andrew Fifita, Josh Jackson, Boyd Cordner (captain), Tyson Frizell. Interchange: David Klemmer, Wade Graham, Jake Trbojevic, Jack Bird.

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