Cameron Munster during a Queensland Maroons media session in Brisbane.
Cameron Munster during a Queensland Maroons media session in Brisbane. REGI VARGHESE

Confirmed: Munster to debut at No.6 for Maroons

KEVIN Walters is banking on the entire Storm spine to put a 37-year Origin omen to bed, with Cameron Munster named to make his debut at five-eighth.

Munster's club combination with halfback Cooper Cronk, as well as fellow playmakers Cameron Smith and Billy Slater, have won him Johnathan Thurston's famed Maroons No.6 jumper, with Michael Morgan to line up at left centre in next Wednesday's decider.

With Thurston and his game one replacement Anthony Milford floored by shoulder injuries, Munster is the third five-eighth to partner Cronk in as many games this series.

Queensland has only experienced such scrumbase disruption in three series since 1980, and have never won the shield with a different halves pairing in each match, though they did secure a 1-1 draw doing so in 1999.

The backing of skipper Smith for his Melbourne teammate to partner Cronk has helped sway a split Queensland hierarchy, with Walters and fellow selectors Darren Lockyer and Gene Miles torn between Munster and Morgan earlier this week.

While Morgan's seven games in the Origin arena had been tipped to land him the playmaking gig, his extra physicality in defence sees him shift one spot wider to mark up on Josh Dugan.

Munster's naming at five-eighth ensures he will make one of the most high-pressure debuts in Maroons history, in the same jumper worn by all-time greats Wally Lewis, Thurston and Munster's own childhood idol Darren Lockyer.

Fellow Origin rookie Ben Hunt will debut from the bench, assuming Morgan's utility role.

Otherwise Walters will take the same starting line-up from game two into the Suncorp showdown, after initially naming his squad in alphabetical order.

Prop Jarrod Wallace retains his starting position despite only managing two runs during his first stint in Origin II, with big men Josh Papalii, Coen Hess and Tim Glasby remaining on the bench.

Hard-running Storm back-rower Felise Kaufusi will join the squad as 18th man after Melbourne's clash with Parramatta on Saturday.

Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough and Titans tyro Ash Taylor will also be on deck for Thursday's training sessions.

Queensland Maroons line-up: 1. Billy Slater 2. Val Holmes 3. Will Chambers 4. Michael Morgan 5. Dane Gagai 6. Cameron Munster 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Dylan Napa 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Jarrod Wallace 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Matt Gillett 13. Josh McGuire. Interchange 14. Ben Hunt 15. Josh Papalii 16. Coen Hess 17. Tim Glasby 18. Felise Kaufusi

News Corp Australia

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