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2024 Crystal Ball: Who will make their Origin debut?

A new coach for the Blues in 2024 opens the door for some potential new faces to feature in the Origin arena, while form and injuries are likely to mean there's room for changes within the Maroons too.

The writers have a crack at predicting who the next Origin debutant will be. 

Who will make their Origin debut in 2024?

Brad Walter: Since making his NRL debut as an 18-year-old in 2018, Zac Lomax has shown glimpses of what many believe he is capable of but hasn’t quite lived up to his enormous potential. Closing in on 100 NRL appearances for the Dragons, new coach Shane Flanagan could be the man to get the best out of the now 24-year-old. With representative-quality centres in short supply Lomax is expected to come under consideration from new Blues coach Michael Maguire. Capable of playing centre, fullback, wing or even five-eighth, Lomax’s versatility could also be an advantage after the problems NSW endured last season when the Blues were forced to replace Tom Trbojevic in Origin I and II. There are many good judges in the game who believe it is a matter of when – not if – he will pull on the Sky Blue jersey at senior level. 

Zac Lomax is never far away from a try

Colleen Edwards: Maroons coach Billy Slater goes by the mantra of 'if you are good enough, you are old enough' and also likes to bring emerging players into his squads to get an understanding of his expectations for a Queensland State of Origin player. This past season players like J’Maine Hopgood were called in to train with the squad and in 2024 it would not be a surprise if Ezra Mam gets a call up if a spot pops up. His electric three-try showing in last year's grand final will have done his chances no harm and the 20-year-old can clearly handle himself on the big stage. 

Corey Rosser: Injury denied Beau Fermor a single minute of NRL action last season, but in 2024 I'm picking him to have a breakout campaign which will include a debut for the Maroons. A very good attacking back-rower with the ability to comfortably cover centre if required, he's a real asset to have at rep level and someone Queensland could use in the way they did Kurt Capewell in previous years. He will probably need to rely on a couple of incumbents being overlooked, but there is room for a specialist back-rower to enter the mix alongside Jeremiah Nanai and David Fifita.

Dan Talintyre: He might have the likes of Murray Taulagi and Xavier Coates ahead of him in the pecking order, but Alofiana Khan-Pereira showed in his rookie season that he’s blessed with blistering speed and a penchant for scoring tries. Khan-Pereira scored 20 of them in 23 games for a team that finished the year in 14th and went through a myriad of halves options in the process. With new coach Des Hasler at the helm, the Titans should be a far more disciplined and improved side and that only stands to benefit Khan-Pereira – who should find himself in several great attacking scenarios throughout the year. The last left winger Hasler coached, Reuben Garrick, scored 33 tries in his last 48 games under the former Manly mentor. He’d be a bolt from the blue (not that kind) should he find his way into Origin contention, but the ceiling is extraordinarily high for Khan-Pereira, who would help the Maroons boast one of the fastest backlines in Origin history.

NRL try time: Alofiana Khan-Pereira

Kelsey Hogan: After being selected in Billy Slater’s extended squad for Game Three, J’maine Hopgood is in the box seat for a Maroons debut if he can pick up where he left off last season. It was Raiders forward Corey Horsburgh who was given the nod over Hopgood in 2023, but that will have only made the Hervey Bay Product hungrier for his opportunity this time around. A hard worker with genuine game-breaking potential, he'd fit right in at Origin level. 

Martin Lenehan: In a bid to launch the Michael Maguire era with a victory in front of their home fans in Sydney, the Blues will unleash Spencer Leniu on the Maroons with one simple directive: unleash hell. The three-time premiership winner was 19th man for Game 3 this year, so he’s in the mix and the time is right to hand the 23-year-old his opportunity on the Origin stage. The Blues lost the opener in 2021 and ’22 and went on to lose the series, so a win at Accor Stadium on June 5 in front of 80,000 fans is a non-negotiable if they hope to reclaim the shield. One of the NRL’s most lethal impact players off the bench, Leniu is capable of blowing a game open when he is thrown into battle after the first half hour. Expect Leniu to blossom alongside Lindsay Collins and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves at the Roosters in 2024 and be at the peak of his powers when the Blues brains trust sit down to name their Origin One squad.

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.