Maroons should opt for forward force - Thaiday

JAMES MACSMITH
Last updated 23:00 25/05/2013

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Queensland forward Sam Thaiday has urged coach Mal Meninga to opt for four forwards on the Maroons interchange bench ahead of what promises to be a torrid State of Origin opener.

With NSW coach Laurie Daley reportedly set to choose Newcastle's Matt Gidley as a utility on the Blues bench alongside forwards Trent Merrin, Anthony Watmough and Andrew Fifita, Meninga could counter that by naming four forwards on the bench in an attempt to dominate proceedings up front.

Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans and Canterbury fullback Ben Barba have been mentioned as possible utility options for Queensland as the game develops.

But Thaiday, a certain selection for the Maroons, said he felt four forwards on the bench, in anticipation of a highly physical encounter for State of Origin I in Sydney on June 5, was the way to go for Queensland as they seek an unprecedented eighth straight series win.

"It's going to be a tough physical battle and a tough game to win for the first one," Thaiday said.

"I think because of the physicality of the game it would be a pretty wise move. Because I think that's where usually the first game is won in the middle third of the field with that brute force.

"But we'll just have to wait and see how Mal goes."

With Brisbane's Ben Hannant (calf) injured and Petero Civoniceva retired there is keen competition for Maroons spots in the forwards. Matt Scott and David Shillington are likely to start up front with Ashley Harrison, Thaiday and Nate Myles in the back row.

If Meninga decides to go for a four-forward rotation on the bench, Josh McGuire, Ben Te'o, Matt Gillett, Chris McQueen, Jacob Lillyman and Martin Kennedy are among those in the mix.

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- AAP

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