THE “Queenslander” spirit will ensure Maroons bolter Dane Nielsen won’t be overawed against NSW in game one of the State of Origin, coach Mal Meninga says.
The Melbourne centre was on Tuesday confirmed as injured superstar Greg Inglis’ replacement when the team was announced on Tuesday, ensuring he’ll make his Origin debut against NSW next week in Brisbane along with Jharal Yow Yeh.
Brisbane winger Yow Yeh celebrates a Queensland Origin call-up barely a fortnight after making his Test debut for Australia.
But the big story was 25-year-old Nielsen, who has only racked up 42 first grade games since his 2008 NRL debut before getting the Origin call.
Nielsen comes in for Inglis who is expected to be ruled out for up to a month after again injuring the hip that required pre-season surgery.
North Queensland-bred Nielsen looked overawed facing the huge media contingent in Brisbane on Tuesday but Meninga had no problem throwing him into the Origin deep end.
Asked what Nielsen could offer the side, Meninga said: “He’s a proud Queenslander.
“We would like GI (Inglis) and Hodgo (injured Broncos centre Justin Hodges) to be available but Dane’s got almost 50 NRL games under his belt, he understands the culture growing up in Queensland . I’ve got the utmost faith in him.”
Nielsen first came to prominence during the Storm’s run to the 2009 grand final.
He cemented his spot in the Melbourne backline last year, playing 21 NRL games and appeared in the World Club Challenge.
Technically Yow Yeh is another Queensland rookie but Meninga believed the Brisbane flyer will hardly be fazed joining Origin team after his international debut.
“He has already played for Australia and because of that understands a bit more about what rep football is about,” Meninga said.
“He will bring that experience behind him and he will also play well for Queensland.”
Another talking point was Broncos back-rower Corey Parker being recalled to the Queensland side after a six-year absence.
And New Zealand Warriors forward Jacob Lillyman is back after three years on the Origin outer.
“It shows that if you play well for your club you get that opportunity again,” Meninga said of the pair.
“It is hard to get into that squad when Queensland is going so well but they forced their way through form.”
Giant South Sydney forward Dave Taylor - who featured in Queensland’s fifth straight series win last year - has been named 18th man.
Queensland will be primed for a record sixth series win.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.