Queensland Origin coach Kevin Walters has a number of holes to fill in his forward pack for game one. Photo: David Clark
Queensland Origin coach Kevin Walters has a number of holes to fill in his forward pack for game one. Photo: David Clark

Maroons lock in prop as rookie declared the ‘real deal’

IF HE'S standing, he's in.

That's the promise Queensland chairman of selectors Gene Miles has given North Queensland prop Matt Scott despite the Cowboy's indifferent form through the first eight weeks of the NRL season.

With his side languishing in 15th position on the ladder, Scott is averaging 83m in little more than 41 minutes per game, behind three of his fellow Cowboy forwards.

But with a mounting injury toll to the Queensland forward contenders and a history of outstanding service for his state in 22 previous Origin appearances, Scott needs only to stay healthy to claim back his place in the Maroons team for game one on June 2.

"I'm pretty sure if Matty Scott's standing up he'll be named at No.8," Miles told NRL.com.

"What people don't realise is that he's coming back from major knee surgery so he's not going to be the Matt Scott of old straight away.

"It's going to take him six or eight games to get back in the swing of things.

"He's still charging on to the ball. He might not be as dominant as he has been previously but that's just a matter of confidence.

"We know what to expect from Matt Scott. He's played 20-odd games for Queensland and he's never, ever let Queensland down."

Scott missed all of last year's series with an ACL injury.

Injuries to Queensland incumbents such as Josh McGuire (ankle), Matt Gillett (neck) and Tim Glasby (thumb) have opened the door for several debutants.

With an average of 153m and 28 tackles in 57 minutes for the Titans this season, Jai Arrow has catapulted himself into Origin calculations.

Jai Arrow’s wholehearted performances for the Titans makes him seem ideally suited for the Origin arena. Photo: Ian Hitchcock
Jai Arrow’s wholehearted performances for the Titans makes him seem ideally suited for the Origin arena. Photo: Ian Hitchcock

The industrious lock forward has shown a consistent standard not many knew he was capable of producing, and convinced former Maroons lock forward Billy Moore that he deserves a place in Kevin Walters' 17 in Melbourne.

"I'm very confident from what I've seen that given the opportunity he would be a great contributor," Moore told foxsports.com.au of Arrow's Origin prospects.

"Honestly at full strength, with Gillett and McGuire in the team, I probably would have found a spot for him on the bench.

"We had a taste of him for a number of seasons at the Broncos. We saw him come on and he was a little bit lukewarm at times, did some good things.

Matt Scott has averaged 83m in his eight games since returning from the ACL injury that ruined his 2017 season. Photo: Alix Sweeney
Matt Scott has averaged 83m in his eight games since returning from the ACL injury that ruined his 2017 season. Photo: Alix Sweeney

"But what he has done has mirrored almost exactly what Jarrod Wallace did last year.

"They've gone to the Coast, been given their jersey for the season and they have both played at a level where you go, 'Wow, I didn't realise he was that good.'

"I'm surprised at his level of consistency and what he's doing each week in the middle of the ruck.

"Taking on the best in the game and all of a sudden after eight rounds they've walked away thinking, 'Yep you are the real deal.'"

But as Moore points out, the great thing about Origin is that you never know whether someone will handle it until they are thrown headlong into the furnace.

"You've got 15 minutes to adapt to Origin. You can't train for it, no matter who you are or what you've done," he said.

"I've seen plenty of good NRL players who have dominated at club level go there and basically get washed up onto the rocks of Origin because they just can't adapt.

"I've just got a gut feeling that Jai Arrow will. He's got a knack of being able to put his body in the space between defenders, getting into the gap and getting those post-contact metres and then the offload can happen.

"For me, I've got no hesitation in putting him in, even though some troops have fallen by the wayside."

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