Xavier Coates. Picture: Brett Costello
Xavier Coates. Picture: Brett Costello

Notable omission at Maroons’ training

Queensland's State of Origin preparations have hit another hurdle with rising star Xavier Coates missing the early stages of training and team manager Petero Civoniceva quitting.

Coates has skipped two training sessions this week because he opted to attend a holiday in the Whitsundays which was booked prior to his selection in Queensland's train-on squad.

The Queensland Rugby League said it had approved Coates' decision to skip the training sessions and he would join preparations next week.

Coates was a notable omission when the Brisbane Broncos and Gold Coast Titans' representatives gathered at Pizzey Park in Miami on Wednesday morning for a fitness session.

Pat Carrigan was the only Broncos player at the session along with Titans quartet AJ Brimson, Phil Sami, Jai Arrow and Moeaki Fotuaika.

Maroons performance chief Alex Corvo conducted the training session under the watchful eye of former Queensland coach Kevin Walters, who is staying involved in the preparations before handing over to Wayne Bennett for the three-game series.

The Maroons are struggling with an injury crisis which has ruled out at least eight potential players from featuring in next month's series.

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The train-on squad was designed to help players not featuring in the NRL finals series remain fit before they enter the Origin "bubble" on October 25.

Nearly every spot in Queensland's backline is up for grabs and Coates' decision to skip the training sessions could harm his chances of securing an Origin debut.

Coates, 19, played 12 games for the Broncos this year and is regarded as a star of the future, with his athletic ability earning comparisons to Queensland great Greg Inglis.

The Maroons are also overhauling their off-field operations, with Bennett already punting assistant coach Justin Hodges in favour of Neil Henry, who was present at Wednesday's session.

Civoniceva was Queensland's team manager for the 2019 series, but has opted to relinquish the duties because of the strict bubble rules.

Origin players and staff will be required to remain in the bubble for nearly four weeks before the series ends at Suncorp Stadium on November 18.

"I'm not involved with this year's Origin series, I've had to stand down from the role because of work and family commitments," Civoniceva said.

"The commitment to go into the bubble for a lengthy period was difficult.

"It's something I absolutely love and am very passionate about. But with the circumstances the way they are, I won't be able to take part in this series.

"I'll definitely be putting my hand up to help out where I can and assist in the future.

"In terms of mentoring, there are a few former players who will still be involved in some way.

"I won't be in camp with the boys but I'll assist where I can."

The Maroons are expected to add Sydney Roosters duo Jake Friend and Lindsay Collins to their train-on squad this week.

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