Slater's bold Maroons selection calls vindicated

Billy Slater's bold selection calls to include in-form tyros Reece Walsh and Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow proved decisive in Queensland's brave and extraordinary 26-18 win over NSW in State of Origin I.

Questions were raised by pundits in NSW about the Maroons throwing Origin loyalty out the window by dropping incumbent fullback Kalyn Ponga and veteran stalwart Dane Gagai to include the youngsters.

Tabuai-Fidow's brilliance in a two-try display was crucial in winning the game while Walsh was superb under the high ball and created a try for winger Selwyn Cobbo with a no-look catch-and-pass.

Slater had seen enough of Tabuai-Fidow's brilliance at fullback for the Dolphins to convince him he could slot seamlessly into the centres. He did that and more.

Walsh has been brilliant for Brisbane. He was picked on form and he delivered.The duo's defensive resolve and grit was another key reason Slater backed them and both went beyond anything they had previously showcased.

Tabuai-Fidow made a try-saver on Tom Trbojevic and could not have done any more.

This was one of the bravest displays by a Maroons outfit that lost Tom Gilbert (dislocated shoulder), Cobbo (leg) and Murray Taulagi (concussion). They also played 10 minutes without sin-binned Tom Flegler.

The Maroons refusal to say die came to the fore again.

"Origin is won on effort and courage and that is what has won the game for the Maroons," Queensland selector Darren Lockyer said in Channel Nine commentary.

The Maroons wore the inspirational phrase coined by former team manager Dick 'Tosser' Turner on the inside of their collar. It reads: "Queensland expects you to do your duty."

To a man, the Maroons lived those words.

At one stage they had hooker Ben Hunt playing at right centre. He did his duty.

Slater's decision to pick warrior North Queensland forward Reuben Cotter, despite the Cowboys' indifferent season, reaped rewards.

Cotter was man of the match and played a blinder.

The Maroons trailed in the second-half when Cotter dived on a loose ball to secure possession. They scored soon afterwards. It was a key moment.

The Blues' discipline let them down and in the big moments they were outplayed by their opponents.