The Maroons have named a 15-man Maroons extended squad and it is the first time in State of Origin history that the Titans have provided more players to Queensland than the Broncos.
Fullback AJ Brimson, winger Phil Sami, prop Moeaki Fotuaika, and lock Jai Arrow (headed to Souths Syndey for 2021) were named in the first wave of 15 Maroons for this year's State of Origin series, which starts on November 4.
Brisbane lock Patrick Carrigan, fresh from being named Brisbane's joint player of the year, joins winger Xavier Coates as the only two Broncos in a squad which will be expanded to 27 after the NRL grand final on October 25.
Nine players named in the squad are yet to play for the Maroons as coach Wayne Bennett prepares to field a side brimming with debutants, as he did in 2001 when he named 10 first-timers in game one of the series.
Cowboys veteran Josh McGuire and Broncos forward Joe Ofahengaue are the two highest-profile omissions.
Newcastle utility Kurt Mann and Wests Tigers co-captain Moses Mbye, who represented Queensland last year, were also expected to make the squad but have not been named.
"We’ve got an exciting mix of both emerging and seasoned talent in the squad so far and we’re really pleased to be able to announce this group today after what has been a challenging period for the game," Bennett said.
"The players named in this squad today will have a small window to freshen up before commencing work with our high performance team to ensure they are in peak condition for the series."
David Fifita, who is recovering from a syndesmosis injury and Gold Coast-bound next year, was ruled out of the series on Tuesday by Titans medicos.
Kalyn Ponga, Hymel Hunt and Edrick Lee have been named from the Knights but the Maroons are sweating on Ponga’s visit to a surgeon on Thursday where he will make a call on whether to undergo surgery on a labral tear.
Uncapped Dragons forward Josh Kerr and Wests Tigers rake Harry Grant have also got the nod. Cowboys star Valentine Holmes will miss game one due to suspension.
Queensland team manager Petero Civoniceva said the selection of the Titans quartet was deserved and reflected the strong finish to the season the club had to move into ninth position on the ladder.
"That whole Gold Coast region has been such a great development pathway for a long time and a strong Titans further amplifies the level of talent that is available for Queensland," Civoniceva told NRL.com.
"Hats off to Justin Holbrook and his staff because you can see the belief and confidence there is in that Titans group. The players selected have been at the forefront of all that.
"To get those representative honours is a reflection of how they have played during the year and because the Titans finished the season so strongly it is a fitting reward."
The players named on Wednesday are from sides that do not feature in the finals series.
None of the Queensland clubs made the eight this year with the Cowboys finishing in 14th position and the Broncos last, which affected their usual high representation in the Maroons squad. Injuries also played their part.
Kyle Feldt (groin), Michael Morgan (shoulder) and Anthony Milford (hamstring) were not considered due to injury.
Brisbane winger Corey Oates, a mainstay of recent Origin campaigns, has been left out of the squad on medical grounds after missing two months of football recovering from a severe leg gash.
Earlier in pre-season he also spent nine days in hospital on a drip after a staph infection in his leg.
Fotuaika, who only recently committed to the Maroons, and Brimson are expected to contend for spots in the 17 for the Origin opener.
"It is great to see the football the Titans have been playing recently but Moe was at the forefront even before that," Civoniceva said.
"He leads from the front and we definitely need that in the Queensland side this year and into the future.
"With guys like Matt Scott retired now it is great to see this new generation of fronties coming through and Moe is definitely at the front of the line.
"I was lucky to spend a bit of time with AJ in last year’s campaign when he was the extended squad and he is a fantastic young bloke and a great talent."
Bennett also confirmed a new addition his support team, with former Cowboys and Titans coach Neil Henry returning to work in camp Maroon as an assistant coach. He replaces Justin Hodges.
Queensland Maroons squad members
- Jai Arrow (Gold Coast Titans)
- AJ Brimson (Gold Coast Titans)
- Moeaki Fotuaika (Gold Coast Titans)
- Phillip Sami (Gold Coast Titans)
- Edrick Lee (Newcastle Knights)
- Hymel Hunt (Newcastle Knights)
- Kalyn Ponga (Newcastle Knights)
- Valentine Holmes (North Queensland Cowboys)
- Coen Hess (North Queensland Cowboys)
- Xavier Coates (Brisbane Broncos)
- Patrick Carrigan (Brisbane Broncos)
- Ben Hunt (St George Illawarra Dragons)
- Josh Kerr (St George Illawarra Dragons)
- Harry Grant (Wests Tigers / Melbourne Storm)
- Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Sea Eagles)