July 14, 2024

Five years on from his stroke, a Maroons great reveals he is still fighting

Queensland coach Billy Slater has made two changes to his 17 for Game 2 with Selwyn Cobbo and J’maine Hopgood replaced by Kurt Capewell and Felise Kaufusi.

There have also been some interesting changes on the extended bench with veteran Dane Gagai recalled as 18th Man, while young guns Heilum Luki and Trent Loiero round out the squad.

Hopgood made his Origin debut in the series opener but has succumbed to a back injury.

Slater was grilled on Cobbo’s omission and the coach confirmed he’d been dropped due to both form and injury.

“Selwyn is not quite 100 per cent at the moment,” Slater said on Monday morning.

“He’s been playing with injections and that sort of stuff… collective with a few things he would like to work on in his game, we thought it was best for Selwyn have a rest.

“I felt this was the best thing for him and for the team.

State of Origin 2024 Game 1: Queensland Maroons player ratings | Sporting  News Australia

“Selwyn has only just turned 22 and sometimes we forget that these guys are still young men developing physically, they’re still developing their game and they’re still building that consistency in their game.

“Everyone is different, it’s not one size fits all and I just felt that this was the right thing for Selwyn, to have a break. He’ll be playing in a Maroon jersey again before we know it.

“I have a great relationship with Selwyn and I had a lengthy and deep discussion with him yesterday, we’re on the same page.”

The Daily Telegraph’s Phil Rothfield said Cobbo had not appeared in official injury reports and suggested on Monday’s Big Sports Breakfast there could be a “big story” behind the omission of one of the squad’s true ‘X-Factor’ players.

Rothfield said it was possible “something outside of general reasons of players with injuries” could be at play and that there may have been “drama behind the scenes”. Slater will speak after the Maroons side is named later on Monday morning.

Cobbo was a surprise inclusion on the bench in Game I but it proved a masterstroke when Reece Walsh was knocked out inside eight minutes.

Kaufusi was the 18th Man in Game 1 but was activated when Walsh was ruled out as a result of foul play – an ugly high shot that saw Blues centre Joseph Suaalii sent off.

Walsh has been named but needs clearance from both Broncos and Queensland doctors before he’s free to take the field and represent his state.

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