Kevin Walters  has fired up ahead of the State of Origin series opener. Picture: AAP
Kevin Walters has fired up ahead of the State of Origin series opener. Picture: AAP

'This is war': Maroons coach fires up for Origin

FIRED-up Queensland coach Kevin Walters has ignited 2019 Origin series fireworks by declaring "this is war" and insisting "we will win Game One" in an extraordinary salvo at NSW and his rival coach Brad Fittler.

Walters had to fight back tears as the emotion-charged Queensland coach set the scene for an explosive 2019 campaign by lashing out at suggestions the Blues will canter to a second consecutive series win.

In a stunning opening-day stance to launch Queensland's series, Walters sent a powerful message to his Maroons stars with the most animated press conference of his coaching career.

The Maroons named three debutants - Moses Mbye, Joe Ofahengaue and David Fifita - in their side and Walters has drawn the battle lines for Origin I at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday week.

"I'm ready, we are ready - this is war," a passionate Walters fired as tears welled in his eyes.

"This Queensland team is going to be so well prepared for this match.

"We are playing at home and we are going to put on a performance everyone will be proud of, including the players, fans and sponsors.

"We will win game one ... it's on."

David Fifita will be the third least experienced player in Queensland Origin history.
David Fifita will be the third least experienced player in Queensland Origin history.
Maroons trio Gavin Cooper, Coen Hess and Jarrod Wallace were dropped to accommodate Queensland's new caps and Walters is backing his rookies to relish the code's toughest arena.

Ofahengaue and Fifita will provide the power and mongrel off the bench, while Mbye is a shock selection as Queensland's No.14 utility.

The 19-year-old Fifita will make history as the first player born in the 2000s to play State of Origin.

"It's very exciting, all these boys have earned their selection in the side," Walters said.

"David Fifita we know how he has been the standout for the Broncos, the intensity and aggression he plays with is something that has stood out.

"Moses Mbye is another guy who is captain of the Tigers and plays a number of positions for us, that is vital at Origin level.

Moses Mbye is set to make his State of Origin debut.
Moses Mbye is set to make his State of Origin debut. DAVE HUNT

"He plays several positions with a lot of class and spirit, he has been a hooker in the grand final for the Bulldogs, he has played centre, five-eighth and fullback. He is a player of great utility value, which is very important for the Maroons in series 2019.

"Joe Ofahengaue our other player who is new to the Queensland side, he was knocking on the door and we just couldn't leave him out of the side.

"He has been outstanding for the Broncos and he will be an integral part of our side."

Walters was guarded about the selection of his captain, with Queensland to formally unveil their skipper at a gala dinner tonight. But Cherry-Evans is expected to edge out Michael Morgan for the captaincy.

Cherry-Evans hasn't played for five weeks following ankle surgery but Walters insists the Maroons halfback and injured forward Jai Arrow (quad) will be fit for Origin I.

Daly Cherry-Evans is expected to be named Queensland captain. Picture: Annette Dew
Daly Cherry-Evans is expected to be named Queensland captain. Picture: Annette Dew

Asked if Cherry-Evans was the captain, Walters said: "If you come to the Maroons dinner, everyone will be informed there, it's very exciting news for the player involved who will be named tonight.

"We expect all of our players to be fit. Some guys haven't played for a few weeks but our conversations with the medical staff at Manly and DCE, he has worked around the clock.

"His commitment and attitude towards getting himself right for Origin I really is inspiring for the whole team to see what he has gone through to get himself right for this game.

"That shows what it means for him to be part of this great Queensland team and he will be a part of it in a big way.

"The injuries won't affect us one bit. We have picked a great side ... it's a game we expect to win."

Queensland: Kalyn Ponga, Corey Oates, Michael Morgan, Will Chambers, Dane Gagai, Cameron Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jai Arrow, Ben Hunt, Josh Papalii, Felise Kaufusi, Matt Gillett, Josh Maguire. Interchange: Moses Mbye, Dylan Napa, David Fifita, Joe Ofahengaue, Tim Gladsby.

NSW: James Tedesco, Nick Cotric, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Morris, Josh Addo-Carr, Cody Walker, Nathan Cleary, David Klemmer, Damien Cook, Paul Vaughan, Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell, Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: Jack Wighton, Payne Haas, Cameron Murray, Angus Crichton.

News Corp Australia


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