State of Origin, team news, Queensland Maroons, selection, squad, Harry Grant injury, Ben Hunt, Reece Walsh debut

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Warriors rookie Reece Walsh is tipped to come into Maroons squad for his Origin debut just seven games into his NRL career.

The Australian’s Brent Read tweeted on Sunday that Walsh will be picked to play fullback in game two.

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Walsh, 18, has been a breakout sensation for the Warriors, but the fullback joins at a time when the Maroons are short for spark particularly in the spine.

Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Tom Opacic are also being considered for call-ups.

News broke on Sunday that Maroons hooker Harry Grant is set to miss Origin II with a hamstring injury, leaving the No. 9 jumper up for grabs.

The man who would have replaced him, Parramatta’s Reed Mahoney, is also sitting in the casualty ward and unavailable for the second State of Origin game.

At the same time, AJ Brimson — who played as their bench utility in game one — missed Sunday’s game for Gold Coast as he nurses bone bruising on his knee.

Queensland will name its Origin II squad at 9am on Monday (AEST) and suddenly all eyes are fixed squarely on the hooker role.

The obvious choice for rookie Queensland coach Paul Green is to issue an SOS to veteran playmaker Ben Hunt.

Hunt missed the initial selection for game one, despite being one of the best Maroons players in the past couple of years.

The 31-year-old is a halfback by trade, but he has played hooker for Queensland in the past and has excelled at the job.

He looked set to replace Brimson and be the bench utility for game two but he suddenly looks set to win the No. 9 jumper.

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The other option for the Maroons is Hunt’s St George Illawarra teammate, Andrew McCullough.

The injuries to Brimson and Grant also open the door for teenage superstar Walsh to make a spectacular State of Origin debut.

The 18-year-old has played only a handful of NRL games for the Warriors, but he has shone in first grade, quickly establishing himself as the game’s most exciting new player.

Fox League analyst Braith Anasta thinks he knows which way the Maroons will lean on Monday.

“Their options are Ben Hunt or McCullough I would think,” Anasta said.

“I’d go with Ben Hunt, and even have an option of Reece Walsh on the bench.

“Reece can cover all positions if it doesn’t go their way, whether it’s the outside backs or fullback, and Ben Hunt has been in really good form for the Dragons.

“(Queensland) need points, we saw that in game one. If you put McCullough in there, yes good service, and he gives (Daly) Cherry-Evans and (Cameron) Munster time and space, but they need more creative nous out of dummy half.

“I’d be going Hunt (at hooker) and Reece Walsh on the bench.”

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