XXXX Queensland Residents coach Jon Buchanan says current form and “team balance” will underpin selections in this year’s team to play New South Wales in Sydney.
Buchanan is already planning Queensland’s push for consecutive wins in the annual representative fixture, which will this year be played at North Sydney Oval on Friday, June 22.
“The strength of the Intrust Super Cup has never been better,” Buchanan said.
“We’ve got any number of players in key positions who will be in line for selection.
“At the end of the day, the balance of the team will have a major bearing on who gets in and who misses out.”
Buchanan was at the helm of the XXXX Queensland Residents side which beat the NSW Intrust Super Premiership Residents team 36-6 in Brisbane last year.
“We’ll try and stay as loyal as we can to the players who did the job last year, but ultimately everyone’s current form will be a telling factor,” Buchanan said.
Of last year’s 17, only Dean Britt and Christian Hazard are presently ineligible after moving to NSW-based National Rugby League clubs.
Young Broncos-contracted Dolphins Jonus Pearson and Tom Opacic will also be unavailable for selection if they play more NRL matches than Intrust Super Cup games.
Injury will also be a factor, with several players, including Billy Walters, Kyle Laybutt, Jahrome Hughes and Nick Slyney, currently out of action.
Walters, Hughes and Slyney are all close to getting back on the park, while Laybutt is out for an extended period.
Walters and Laybutt teamed up in the halves to spearhead Queensland’s impressive performance last year.
If injury prevents them from reuniting again, Buchanan is confident the Intrust Super Cup has the playmaking stocks to cover any potential loss.
Jake Clifford, Cameron Cullen, Todd Murphy, Jamal Fogarty and Sam Scarlett are just some of the in-form halves who are currently putting their hand up for higher honours.
Buchanan has been delighted with the early season form of Blake Leary and Nathaniel Neale, two key members of Queensland’s starting forward pack in 2017.
He said players like Neale and Leary only had to maintain their consistent performances, while some others had to improve their form to be in the selection mix.