A damning statistic has cast doubt on Maroons veteran Dane Gagai’s spot ahead of the Origin decider in Brisbane on July 13.
Gagai has played 21 games for Queensland, but the center has missed a whopping 18 tackles in the first two games of the series.
The 31-year-old was embarrassed by Blues star on Sunday night Matt Burton who produced one of the best debuts in years.
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The Maroons won the series opener, but the best player in a losing NSW side was Jack Wighton and he played on Gagai.
Backrower Kurt Capewell and winger Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow both played at the centers for Queensland last year and could replace Gagai in the No. 4 jersey.
Capewell could be replaced in the back row by Titans wrecking ball David Fifita, who has played for the Maroons five times since 2019.
Admittedly, Cowboys aviator Tabuai-Fidow and Titans forward Fifita have both spent time on the bench this season in hesitant form at their respective clubs.
Anyway, veteran rugby league journalist Phil Rothfield wants Gagai eliminated from Game III.
“They have to make changes. Have you seen Dane Gagai’s defense in the first two games?” Rothfield told NRL 360.
“Last night he missed eight tackles on Burton and the week before in Origin, he missed ten tackles on Jack Wighton. That’s 18 tackles he missed in Origin.
“I just don’t think he’s playing well enough to keep his place.
“Capewell should go to the centers and the first guy they should pick in the front pack is Patrick Carrigan.”
But Queensland legend Cooper Cronk said “hell no” when talking about Rothfield’s assessment later on on the show.
“Look, Dane Gagai is a proven player,” Cronk said.
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“Gagai is a start and I really like that his name is coming up and his stats on missed tackles are coming because when you make a decision you don’t have to poke the bear.
“Yes, 18 tackles in two games (is a concern). I’ll say it again – 18 tackles in two games and I’m saying it more because I know Dane Gagai will respond to that, he won’t miss a few tackles in game three, he’ll respond to that.
“The other part is it’s up to Dane to solve the one-on-one, and I think Daly Cherry-Evans can play a part in that, systematically in terms of some of the positions he takes to really Be sure the right edge is better defensively.”
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