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Sami an Origin smokey?

In just under four weeks, Billy Slater will name his Queensland Maroons squad for Game I of this year's State of Origin series.

With selection not too far away, the 'water cooler' debates have already begun on who should and shouldn't be on the big stage for the clash in Sydney on June 8.

Although the champion fullback has suggested that no position is locked in for the annual interstate rivalry, it can be said most of the Maroons' back-line has likely been settled, pending availability for the clash.

However; with Valentine Holmes' more than successful switch to left centre for the Cowboys and the Queensland coaching staff likely to replicate the same genius coaching move at Origin level, it leaves the door ajar for a number of candidates to fill the void on the left wing.

There are likely six candidates firming to be a chance at joining Camp Maroon in a month's time; with Corey Oates, Selwyn Cobbo, Reece Walsh, Kyle Feldt, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and the Titans' very own Phil Sami in the mix for the call-up.

24-year-old Sami has been in the Origin arena before, playing two games in 2020's victorious series and would be a perfect fit for Slater's line-up should the Maroons legend be looking for a genuine left winger who plays that position at club level.

Hoping to return from a knee injury in this weekend's match-up against the Roosters in Mackay, 'Flying Phil's' five games this year has seen him average a try a match, 142 metres over 15 runs and three tackle breaks per outing. He also has the versatility to play at both centre and on the wing.

Sami a pearler of a take

The other genuine left flank in the mix - Corey Oates - has very similar numbers to Sami, with six tries in his eight games, plus an average of 155 metres per match and three tackle breaks. The Broncos flyer has played eight games for Queensland, but is now aged 27.

The other four players named - Cobbo, Walsh, Feldt and Tabuai-Fidow - are also formidable options for the state, but will be forced to play out of position to their usual spots in club footy should they be given their opportunity.

Feldt played two games for Queensland last year before missing out in Game III, although the prolific Cowboys points-scorer is fresh from a three-try haul against the Eels in Darwin.

Much like Sami, Tabuai-Fidow is also returning from injury, and got his chance to shine with an Origin call-up in Game III of last year's series. Should they opt for an all-Cowboys left edge, the Hammer is in with a good shot of a call-up.

Cobbo is a fresh young talent with a bright future in the game. Only aged 19 and 15 games under his belt, it will be a bold call to hand him a debut in a must-win series for Queensland, but as they say... 'if you're good enough, you're old enough' and that certainly can be said for young Selwyn.

The final candidate in with a shot is Warriors No. 1 Walsh, who was days away from making his Origin debut last year until injury sidelined the 19-year-old. The fullback was a teen sensation for Queensland in the junior grades and is a player that is likely to have a bright future at Origin level - but will his journey begin this season?

There is certainly plenty of food for thought at who will don the left wing jersey for Game I, with the selection contest set to heat up over the next four weeks.... a perfect time for Sami to return and impress the Queensland quartet of Slater, Johnathon Thurston, Cameron Smith and Josh Hannay to get another crack at wearing the Maroon.

Acknowledgement of Country

Gold Coast Titans proudly acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we are situated, the Kombumerri families of the Yugambeh Language Region. We pay our respects to their Elders past, present and emerging, and recognise their continuing connections to the lands, waters and their extended communities throughout South East Queensland.