Papalii to debut for Queensland in Origin II

Last updated 15:37 18/06/2013
Josh Papalii
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FAST-TRACKED: Josh Papalii.

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Former Junior Kiwis representative Josh Papalii will be the latest New Zealander to experience State of Origin rugby league after the Canberra Raiders enforcer was promoted to Queensland's bench for Game 2 in Brisbane next week.

The 21-year-old declared his allegiance to the Maroons last year rather than the New Zealand Rugby League and was 19th man for the series opener in Sydney on June 5, won by New South Wales 14-6.

Queensland have made two changes to their starting pack. Papalii's Raiders team-mate, David Shillington, and lock Ashley Harrison have been omitted.

Nate Myles moves from the second row to partner Australian test prop Matt Scott, while Game 1 impact forward Chris McQueen replaces Myles.

Corey Parker has been promoted from the bench to start at lock.

Papalii's graduation to Origin comes 12 months after Palmerston North-born prop James Tamou made his NSW debut following his switch of allegiance from the NZRL to the Kangaroos for last year's Anzac test.

Despite being included in the Queensland squad, Papalii, who played for the Junior Kiwis in 2011, will still be eligible to represent Samoa at the World Cup in October and November.

Papalii moved from Auckland to Brisbane with his family when he was 6 years old and developed his league career there before moving to Canberra, where he made his NRL debut in 2011.

Queensland coach Mal Meninga, who convinced Papalii to choose Queensland over the Kiwis, said the Maroons emerging squad member's selection was based on his defence and mobility.

"He's playing really, really well. He adds that aggressive element to the game. He's very combative when he plays," Meninga said at the team announcement.

"Origin is like that; you need that mentality.

"We don't know how much game time Josh will play, but I'm sure he'll be biting at the bit to get out there, put a Maroon jersey on and do well for his state."

Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans is also poised to make his Origin debut off the interchange bench as utility cover for Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith - another example of the Queensland selectors injecting new blood.

Meninga said Cherry-Evans, who has formed a potent playmaking combination with Kiwis five-eighth Kieran Foran at the Sea Eagles, could also slot in at centre and in the back row if required.

Cherry-Evans was 18th man for the series opener and, like Papalii, has long been earmarked for Origin after also featuring in the emerging players set-up.

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Queensland: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Brent Tate, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (captain), Nate Myles, Chris McQueen, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange: Daly Cherry-Evans, Matt Gillett, Ben Te'o, Josh Papalii, Martin Kennedy (18th man).

- AAP

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