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'It just happens': Cotter spills on 80-min secret

3 minute read

Reuben Cotter's ability to impact a game without being substituted has allowed Queensland coach Billy Slater to get creative with his State of Origin bench.

REUBEN COTTER.
REUBEN COTTER. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Queensland's 80-minute man Reuben Cotter admits his State of Origin endurance isn't something he strategises.

"It just sort of happens," the Maroons forward said.

"I'll stay out there as long as the team and state needs me to."

But surely the lungs are burning?

"They definitely do; five minutes, 10 minutes in, you feel it. But you just try to get on with the job."

Cotter played every minute of last year's series, his first full campaign after injury limited him to a sole 2022 showing.

He walked away with the Wally Lewis Medal for player of the series, Cotter amassing 135 tackles and 328 run metres across three games.

That engine has allowed Slater to include versatile back Selwyn Cobbo on the bench, as well as scheming hooker Harry Grant.

"We might even create one (position) for him, who knows," Slater quipped on Monday of Brisbane's Cobbo.

Cotter called it "exciting" while North Queensland and Maroons teammate Tom Dearden admitted Cobbo's role remained a mystery.

"Billy will definitely have a plan for how that's going to work," he said.

"All us players have so much trust in Billy and the coaching staff and the plan that they'll have in place."

Under Slater, Queensland's forwards have done eye-catching things.

Playing out of position when injury strikes, or leaping like prop Lindsay Collins to mark and assist for a game-sealing try in last year's Origin opener.

"It's about 'keep moving'," Cotter explained.

"If you don't stop, then you put yourself in the picture to do that sort of stuff.

"It was amazing what he did, we'll look to build on it."

They're without injured pair Tino Fa'asuamaleaui and Tom Gilbert, while veteran Josh Papali'i has remained in Origin retirement.

Instead the smaller, mobile pack including Moeaki Fotuaika, Pat Carrigan, Jaydn Su'A, J'maine Hopgood and Jeremiah Nanai have been handed the task.

"You look at it, that's what wins big footy games; who can win those small battles," Cotter said, dismissing any concerns over a Blues size advantage.

"Whoever does that for longer normally comes out on top."

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