Oates, O'Neill handed Queensland debuts


Queensland Maroons coach Kevin Walters has handed debuts to Corey Oates and Justin O'Neill in his first State of Origin team selection.

Walters announced his side on Tuesday for next week's series-opener in Sydney, with Brisbane Broncos wing Oates and North Queensland Cowboys centre O'Neill each rewarded for impressive form at club level.

Discussing the call-up of Oates, Walters told QRL TV: "He's been in fantastic touch for the Broncos for the past 18 months, has done some wonderful things on that left wing.

"He's virtually put his hand up and said 'pick me, pick me' and that's what you want from the players.

Walters added of O'Neill: "I was talking to Justin last night and he made his NRL debut way back in 2010, so he's been toiling away. 

"He's won premierships both at the Melbourne Storm and then, of course, up at the Cowboys last year and he's just worked hard on his game for so long. We've always known he's been a special talent and he gets his opportunity now."

While Oates and O'Neill represent new faces for the Maroons, who have won nine of the past 10 series, there is no shortage of experience in Walters' side.

Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk are among the backs, while Melbourne Storm hooker Cameron Smith will captain the team and is joined in the forwards by the likes of Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday.

Walters succeeded Mal Meninga as Queensland's coach in December after the latter took charge of Australia.

New South Wales named a 19-man squad on Monday, including five debutants.


Queensland team: 1. Darius Boyd (Brisbane Broncos), 2. Corey Oates (Brisbane Broncos), 3. Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs), 4. Justin O'Neill (North Queensland Cowboys), 5. Dane Gagai (Newcastle Knights), 6. Jonathan Thurston (North Queensland Cowboys), 7. Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm), 8. Matt Scott (North Queensland Cowboys), 9. Cameron Smith (Melbourne Storm), 10. Nate Myles (Manly Sea Eagles), 11. Matt Gillett (Brisbane Broncos), 12. Sam Thaiday (Brisbane Broncos), 13. Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos), 14. Michael Morgan (North Queensland Cowboys), 15. Josh McGuire (Brisbane Broncos), 16. Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters), 17. Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders).