Bench role for rookie Guerra

The Roosters' Aidan Guerra is set for his Origin debut. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

The Roosters' Aidan Guerra is set for his Origin debut. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

RUGBY LEAGUE

Queensland have named Sydney Roosters forward Aidan Guerra to debut in next week's State of Origin series opener in Brisbane.

Guerra has been chosen for injured back-rower Sam Thaiday, who ruled himself out of contention after failing to recover from a niggling calf injury.

Guerra will start from the interchange bench with South Sydney forward Chris McQueen taking Thaiday's second-row position.

Selectors have also overlooked Dave Taylor despite the giant forward's impressive form for Gold Coast.

Taylor missed out on a spot with out-of-sorts Josh Papalii retaining his spot on the interchange bench alongside Guerra.

Melbourne Storm back Will Chambers and Roosters hooker Jake Friend are the 18th and 19th men in the squad.

The Queensland team selection comes as criticism of his early season NRL form has not been wide of the mark, accepts Melbourne fullback Billy Slater.

The Queensland and Kangaroos custodian had a slow start to the year, with some suggesting it could be the end of his stellar representative career.

But the Storm No 1 has starred in Melbourne's back-to-back wins and found his groove at just the right time for the Maroons with the interstate period beginning this week.

Slater said he knew he hadn't hit the ground running this year, leaving him open to blame for the Storm's sluggish start to 2014.

"I have been around the game long enough to respect that everyone has a role to play and I understand that being a high-profile person I am going to be talked about a fair bit in the media whether it be good or bad," Slater said.

"If I am not playing up to my standard obviously I am going to attract a bit of criticism. I am comfortable with where I am at.

"But certainly fitness has affected me in the first six weeks of the comp and that was always going to happen."

Slater said his knee injury meant he couldn't play in preseason and there was no substitute for running on the paddock.

"My knees are feeling better each week and my fitness is starting to come together."

Slater said he never let the criticism worry him and that he never doubted he would get back to his best.

"You decide what you read and you decide what you watch," he said.

"When you go to training and you talk to your teammates, it's really important to focus on that side of things. They will let you know when you need to pick your act up, not the journalists." AAP

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