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Tonga desperate for Queensland start

Ben Horne 09/05/2011 12:56:48 PM Comments (0)

Willie Tonga says he's desperate to be included in Queensland's side for State of Origin I, whether the Maroons are injury-affected or not.

With stars Greg Inglis and Darius Boyd under fitness clouds for the opening match at Suncorp Stadium on May 25, experienced campaigner Tonga will be the first man called in to fill the void at either centre or wing.

However should Inglis (hip) and Boyd (hamstring) recover in time, Tonga suspects Test debutant Jharal Yow Yeh might get the nod over him on the flank in a full strength line-up.

The North Queensland back was outstanding for the Maroons last year in the absence of Justin Hodges and Tonga hasn't given up hope that Mal Meninga will remain loyal to him in his first-choice team.

"He's pretty good like that and just hopefully I'm in the selectors minds when it comes around but if I'm not then hopefully I'll be there at some stage," Tonga told AAP.

"I'd be happy to play anywhere but I think if Greg's fit, you've got Darius and Jharal stepping up so I'm not sure if there's a spot for me there in that side at the moment.

"But I guess we'll see how we go."

Meninga is known to be a big fan of Tonga, who has stepped up at every opportunity over the past two series when the Maroons have been missing big players like Inglis and Hodges.

St George Illawarra coach Wayne Bennett says Boyd is a chance to make his return on Friday, but there are suggestions the Dragons fullback could be sidelined for a few weeks yet.

South Sydney are sweating on scan results for Inglis on Monday.

Tonga, 27, believes he's proven himself on league's biggest stage and declared he's ready to do the job again should the strike power in the outside backs fail to recover.

"Definitely, I think so and I know it's a big responsibility if you're given that Maroons jersey," he said.

"You're playing for your state and you don't want to let anyone down so I feel I can step up to the occasion if given that opportunity.

"I'm not thinking about it at the moment, I'm not sure how (Greg) is at the moment and hopefully he pulls up well.

"But I think you take anybody out we (Queensland) can put someone in there that can definitely do that job."

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