Queensland Maroons, team, selection, news, Murray Taulagi, Selwyn Cobbo, Corey Oates, Billy Slater

Queensland manager Billy Slater has allayed fears after backing two rookie wingers for the second encounter in the home state.

The Maroons mentor delivered a huge rap from Broncos flier Corey Oates, who Murray Taulagi beat out for the vacant Queensland wing, but he insisted the Cowboys’ gun had earned his shot in Perth.

Taulagi will make his Queensland debut on Sunday night after Melbourne speedster Xavier Coates suffered an ankle injury in the first game.

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Taulagi will cover the Maroons’ left wing while Broncos prodigy Selwyn Cobbo keeps his spot on the right – and Slater is happy with the pick.

“I think they both earned their place in this squad. Murray was in the 22 in the first game and I said from the start that those five guys outside the 17 weren’t here for an experience or a vacation; they were here because they deserved the opportunity to be here, and they were next in line,” Slater told Nine’s 100% footy in a crossbreed from the Maroon camp.

“(Taulagi) was really close to picking in game one. He’s done great things up there with the Cowboys and a big part of why they’re having a successful year. Through his actions, he earned his chance. He’ll be alongside Valentine Holmes (who he plays with every week, so that’s a bonus. Murray definitely deserved his chance.”

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Taulagi has recorded nine tries in 15 games this season and has produced some excellent results.

He also set up a Cowboys try with an otherworldly pass in Magic Round, and threw the footy back while hovering midair over the left touchline to set up a Scott Drinkwater four-pointer.

Wests Tigers halfback Jackson Hastings grappled with Taulagi in a desperate attempt to get him in contact, but that didn’t stop the red-hot talent from landing the ball squarely in Drinkwater’s fists.

Cowboys weapon Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow had been battling with Taulagi and Oates for the Maroons’ available wing spot but he was sidelined by a head injury rating in North Queensland’s win over Manly last Friday night.

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Slater suggested it was a close race between Taulagi and Oates, who has scored 12 tries in 14 games this season.

“I don’t know if I’ve seen Corey play better football and he’s played for Queensland so he’s right there too,” Slater said.

“I think we’re pretty comfortable with our starting 17, but those five guys who are outside – they’re here for a reason.”

North Queensland’s Tom Dearden, Brisbane’s Oates and Thomas Flegler, Gold Coast’s Beau Fermor and Warriors’ Reece Walsh make up the Maroons’ extended squad.

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