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Thurston unlikely for Origin I: Walters

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/05/2017 Laine Clark

Queensland coach Kevin Walters says Johnathan Thurston is "very unlikely" to prove his fitness for next week's State of Origin series opener in Brisbane.

But Walters will name the injured playmaker when the Maroons squad is unveiled at 1pm on Monday.

The Queensland mentor is expected to select either Melbourne's Cameron Munster or Brisbane playmaker Anthony Milford as backup for Thurston who is battling a shoulder injury suffered in the trans-Tasman Test.

"I believe it's very unlikely that he'll play but we'll give him the chance to prove his fitness throughout the week," Walters told Sky Sports Radio when asked about Thurston.

"I don't think he'll be fit enough with his shoulder.

"We've got to keep in mind that this is game one of a three-game series."

Walters is expected to give Thurston until Sunday to prove his fitness - just days before the series opener on May 31 at Suncorp Stadium.

If passed fit Thurston will play his 37th straight Origin game.

Brisbane NRL club coach Wayne Bennett has refused to release Milford for the Queensland camp unless the Broncos pivot is in the Maroons' top 17.

Bennett said Milford would instead prepare for Brisbane's next round NRL clash with the Warriors.

Munster has no such problems with Melbourne having a weekend bye.

"I think Wayne will have the interests of Queensland at heart more so than his own club, he's always been that way," Walters said of the potential standoff with Bennett.

The Queensland team announcement will also end debate over another hot topic - will comeback veteran Billy Slater replace incumbent Darius Boyd at fullback.

A snub for Slater - 34 next month - may spell the end of his 27-game Origin career.

If Slater is picked, Boyd would move to the left wing where he has played 23 of his 26 Origins.

Boyd's move back to the wing would prompt a backline reshuffle with Test winger Valentine Holmes the possible unlucky omission.

Possible Queensland team: Darius Boyd, Corey Oates, Will Chambers, Justin O'Neill, Dane Gagai, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Dylan Napa, Cameron Smith, Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday, Matt Gillett, Josh McGuire. Interchange: Michael Morgan, Josh Papalii, Jacob Lillyman, Coen Hess. 18th man: Anthony Milford/Cameron Munster.

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