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Qld finally shelves Origin loyalty card

Playing the loyalty card helped Queensland win an unprecedented seven straight State of Origin series.
Qld finally shelves Origin loyalty card
by AAP

By Laine Clark and Jim Morton

BRISBANE, June 18 AAP - Playing the loyalty card helped Queensland win an unprecedented seven straight State of Origin series.

But with title No.8 on the line in Brisbane next week, Maroons coach Mal Meninga says the time is right to start looking for trump cards.

Not that it made the decision to dump veterans Ash Harrison and David Shillington for their must-win Origin II clash with NSW any easier.

Once it was harder to get out of the Queensland side than into it thanks to Meninga's "pick and stick" policy.

However, Meninga conceded on Tuesday his team was going through a mini-transition after granting Manly playmaker Daly Cherry-Evans and Canberra wrecking ball Josh Papalii their Origin debuts in the crunch June 26 clash.

"There is a need for fresh blood," Meninga said.

"We've got good young kids coming through.

"It's pretty hard to refuse with them knocking on the door so long so we've opened up a couple."

In one of the biggest shake-ups since Queensland began their reign in 2006, South Sydney's Chris McQueen and Broncos lock Corey Parker were promoted from the bench to the starting back-row while Gold Coast secondrower Nate Myles was shifted to prop.

Meninga said axing Canberra forward Shillington (nine Origins, 30 next week) and Gold Coast lock Harrison (15 Origins, 32) was one of the most difficult calls of his career.

But Meninga believed no one could argue with the injection of Cherry-Evans and Papalii.

And Meninga was quick to guarantee Cherry-Evans playing time after NSW coach Laurie Daley left his utility back Josh Reynolds on the bench for game one.

Captain Cameron Smith welcomed Queensland's new faces.

"Those guys have been on the fringes for a while now and their form has forced Mal to give them a start," he said.

"That's what rugby league is all about - if you are playing well enough you pick yourself."

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