Mal Meninga earmarks Josh McGuire for Queensland debut
BRISBANE Broncos prop Josh McGuire appears set to realise his long-held dream of playing State of Origin for Queensland later this month.
The 25-year-old (pictured) has been in outstanding form for Brisbane so far this season, averaging more than 150m with the ball in his past three games against the Eels, Dragons and Roosters.
And Maroons coach Mal Meninga has all but guaranteed he will be picked to make his debut for the Maroons against New South Wales for Game I in Sydney on May 27.
Meninga said it was only a matter of when, not if, McGuire received his first Queensland jumper.
Barring injury or a sudden loss of form, the consistent Broncos bookend appears to at least be set for a Maroons bench spot, following the loss of the Roosters' Aidan Guerra (broken jaw) and Ben Te'o (Irish rugby).
McGuire (pictured) even showed his versatility for Samoa in his team's 18-16 win over Tonga on Saturday night, displaying a crisp passing game at hooker, scoring a try, running for 88m and making 38 tackles.
"He (McGuire) is playing for Samoa, giving his all,'' Meninga told APN. "His Broncos form has been fantastic and when he puts a Maroon jersey on, we expect the same.
"He's got great mobility and got a good motor on him, and he's passionate about playing for whatever team he plays in."
Meninga said McGuire's performances had gone to a new level under master coach Wayne Bennett at the Broncos this year.
"Certainly under Wayne, his form has been extraordinarily good and he's the type of player that would suit Origin," he said.
"He's been in our system for a while, he's playing really good footy at the moment and he deserves a run.
"He's thereabouts. His name will definitely be mentioned at the selection table."
McGuire, who made his NRL debut in 2009, is trying not to think too much about the high possibility of finally pulling on a Maroons jersey for the first time this year.
"If I get the opportunity, I'll take it with two hands," he said.
"But I've got to stay focused and turn up to play a good game against Penrith (this Friday night).
"It's a goal and a dream of mine to play Origin. If I get that opportunity, it'd be a very special day."