Darius Boyd has scored 17 tries in 28 State of Origin games for Queensland.Former Queensland coach Mal Meninga has backed Darius Boyd to retain his State of Origin spot this year.
Boyd is under pressure to keep his Maroons jumper after an underwhelming start to the NRL season for a Brisbane side that has spent most of the opening nine weeks outside the top eight.
But with less than a month before teams for game one are selected, Meninga backed Boyd to re-unite with another stalwart in Greg Inglis to form a deadly left-edge combination.
“Darius has never let the Maroon jersey down,” Meninga told Macquarie Sports Radio’s Breakfast.
“I remember Darius, when he was playing for Newcastle, coming in to the Queensland side and not in good form and his personal life was affecting him but he came out and did the job.
“Him and Greg (Inglis) together, they’ve formed such a strong, formidable combination.”
The coach also watered down calls for Knights prodigy Kalyn Ponga to be fast-tracked into the Maroons side after his rapid rise this season.
Meninga instead suggested Ponga be brought into the Origin camp as an extra player.
“We’ve got Billy Slater so where do you pick him? I think he’s obviously a prodigious talent and as they keep on saying he’ll play for Queensland,” Meninga said.
“He may play for Queensland throughout this series but certainly not for game one.
“If you look at it our halves are pretty strong, Benny Hunt, Munster and Michael Morgan. One of those three will probably sit on the bench.
“Bring him into the squad and give him a taste of how our great players prepare for games.
“I think it’ll be an eye opener for him.”
Meninga had some advice for rookie NSW coach Brad Fittler, who is tasked with ending a Maroons dynasty that has claimed 11 of the past 12 series shields.
One of Fittler’s decisions is the hotly-contested fullback spot, with Manly ace Tom Trbojevic breathing down the neck of Sydney Roosters incumbent James Tedesco.
“I think Tom Trbojevic and James Tedesco need to be in the side, both of them really,” Meninga said.
“I picked Tommy in the World Cup squad last year and he made a real good fist of right centre, right wing.
“He can play both sides of the footy field.
“Latrell Mitchell has started to poke his head through.
“Such a fine array of young talent, you’ve got to bleed them at some stage.”