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Queensland’s turn to make big Origin calls

Over to you Queensland.

Brad Fittler has taken the first gamble of the State of Origin series, dropping Josh Addo-Carr to bring in one of the NRL’s tallest wingers, with Daniel Tupou.

Already, the chess game has begun.

Fittler’s controversial call is all about trying to nullify the Maroons’ advantage out wide, where Xavier Coates and Selwyn Cobbo are two of the best aerial threats in the NRL.

Now it will be Billy Slater’s turn to reply on Monday morning with his maiden squad for the June 8 opener.

Again, the wing spots will be the main points of contention.

Cobbo is now the favourite to claim one spot on the wing, with Xavier Coates expected to hold on to the other wing jersey.

Reuben Cotter is the another man expected to debut off the bench, having impressed in the middle for North Queensland this year.

As his coach Todd Payten put it on Friday night, the Cowboys forward will tackle anything, even the goalpost.

Cotter and Cobbo are likely to be part of a collection of rookies Slater puts his faith in, with both sides likely to run out with four debutants at Accor Stadium.

Slater is the first man since Kevin Walters in 2016 to coach Origin without club experience, and has never even held a full-time assistant’s role in the NRL.

Not that it fazes him. “I’m not scared about this position I am in,” Slater said on Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.

“I am comfortable with it. It is something I have dedicated my life to, rugby league.

“Yes, I haven’t coached before, but I know the game pretty well.”

Slater is also happy to follow Fittler’s approach as a new-age coach.

While Fittler’s shoe-free sessions have become part of the Blues’ camps, his phone-free, media-ready ways are revolutionary compared with clubs in the NRL.

As far as Fittler is concerned, if a player can’t face questions from a journalist after every session then how can he possibly deal with the Origin arena.

Slater is ready to share the same views, paving the way for the most open Origin series for fans.

“I think the media is a part of this hype,” Slater said.

“We get to play in an atmosphere like no other. And it is because of the hype of State of Origin.

“It’s because of how it started in 1980, the players since, and the hype and attention that goes with it.

“We have to embrace it.”

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