Queensland Coach Kevin Walters says he has full confidence in Wests Tigers captain Moses Mbye as the fullback prepares to make his State of Origin debut for the Maroons off the bench.
Mbye was somewhat of a surprise selection for the Maroons when news of his potential inclusion broke over the weekend — news made more complicated by the fact that the fullback would miss Wests Tigers' Round 11 match due to injury.
But with his omission due only to a minor groin strain and his selection following a rich history coming through the Queensland system, Mbye's selection made sense.
"I wouldn't have thought it would be a shock," Walters told Big Sports Breakfast.
"He's been in some good touch with Wests Tigers and he's one of those players that have been in our system for forever and a day. I've coached him at the U/20's level and he's come through in to the Emerging Maroons side and he's been around the team at different stages — without getting an opportunity until now.
"I've got every confidence that he'll be a fantastic player for Queensland.
"It's just getting the jersey and doing the jersey pride and justice.
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"The hard part is actually playing yourself in to this side; once you're in there, though, that's when the real hard work starts. We've got our major focus on next Wednesday — getting the job done and getting it done extremely well.
In recent years, Michael Morgan, Ben Hunt and Daly Cherry-Evans have all filled the utility role off the bench for Queensland but the trio will all start this year's series — leaving the door open for a fresh face on the bench for Walters' side.
The spot was believed to come down to either Mbye or Broncos five-eighth Anthony Milford, with the Noosa Pirates' versatility getting him over the line in the end, having played all four positions in the spine as well as centre in his NRL career.
"Certainly that 14th position is about finding a utility player," Walters said.
"We've got some great options there and we had to make sure we got that right.
"The rest of the team picks itself, really."
After dropping last year's series to the Blues, Queensland will start the 2019 series at home at Suncorp Stadium next Wednesday knowing that they will most likely need to secure victory if they are to bring the shield back north of the border.
“We want to start the series well and with a win," Walters enthused.
"But to do that, our preparation has got to be immaculate.
"Everything we do around the next few days is about that ultimate performance on Wednesday night and that’s what we’ll be striving for in front of our home ground.
"We’ll have to use that to our advantage."
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