Judging from the Outcome of Origin I, the Maroons would be wise to drop the entire side, not only New Zealand Warriors prop Jacob Lillyman.
Four others received the axe as well, including the experienced forward Sam Thaiday. Winger Corey Oates, centre Justin O’Neill and Lillyman’s fellow prop Nate Myles will also need to find something else to do come June 21.
Oates’ axing comes as the biggest surprise, since he acquitted himself adequate at the Suncorp Stadium Massacre, as the 28 – 4 drubbing of the Queensland Maroons at the hands of the New South Wales Blues could be characterised.
Unconfirmed speculation on replacements includes the North Queensland Cowboys’ Gavin Cooper. The Cronulla Sharks might contribute Valentine Holmes to debut on the right wing.
Darius Boyd would fill the void left by Oates on the left wing and Billy Slater of Melbourne could be wearing the No 1 jumper for the Queenslanders. Dane Gagai might be found as partner to Will Chambers in the centres.
There is also some speculation that Lillyman may receive a reprieve, but that is contingent on the outcome of the suspension hearing of Jarrod Wallace. Wallace is under scrutiny for a shoulder charge penalty incurred while he was playing for the gold Coast Titans against the New Zealand Warriors.
The entire selection process was thrown into disarray when Johnathan Thurston not only got on the ground for the North Queensland Cowboys in their game against the Parramatta Eels, he figure prominently in four of the teams’ five tries. Thurston’s apparent full recovery from the shoulder issue that sidelined him for a month is good news for Maroons’ Coach Kevin Walters.
Thurston went to Darwin as the 19th man and it was thought that his chances of seeing action were miniscule, and the Eels wasted no time in attempting to discern the condition of Thurston’s shoulder, resorting to late hits on several occasions.