Trent Hodkinson scores the series-clinching try for NSW last year.
Both NSW and QLD have named their 17-man teams for the opening State of Origin clash on May 27 in Sydney.
New South Wales coach Laurie Daley has named two debutants, and dumped veteran Luke Lewis and the out-of-form Josh Reynolds as the Blues look to retain the Origin shield in 2015. Canterbury duo Josh Jackson and David Klemmer will each make their NSW debuts, with Robbie Farah to captain the side with Paul Gallen sidelined through injury. Daley has also opted to go with Parramatta’s Will Hopoate on the wing in favour of Kangaroos and Rabbitohs premiership-winning star Alex Johnston. Josh Dugan replaces Jarryd Hayne at fullback, while last year’s series-hero Trent Hodkinson retains his No. 7 jersey and will partner the returning Mitchell Pearce in the halves. Andrew Fifita also returns to the NSW side on the bench.
“It’s exciting times for NSW,” said Daley. “It’s a massive occasion. They have to uphold the values of what it means to play for NSW on and off the field.”
Meanwhile, Queensland coach Mal Meninga has stuck loyal with the majority of the Maroons’ side that lost last year’s State of Origin series, with Josh McGuire the only player set to debut in the opening clash in Sydney on May 27. Broncos enforcer McGuire will start from the bench as Queensland attempt to exact revenge on the Blues after NSW ended their nine-year run in 2014. Cameron Smith will once again lead the Maroons around the paddock, with the tried and tested star-studded backline of Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Will Chambers, Jonathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk all returning to the side. Manly star Daly Cherry-Evans has been named as the utility on the bench, however there is talk he could miss the first game with injury. Cherry-Evans injured his elbow while playing for the Sea Eagles on Monday night, with scans on Tuesday morning suggesting he could be sidelined for up to two weeks. If Cherry-Evans is indeed ruled out, Meninga will have to make a decision on whether to add another utility or go with a fourth forward. If Meninga goes the utility option, then Cowboys playmaker Michael Morgan will earn his Maroons debut, while Dylan Napa will receive a call-up if Queensland decide to go forward-heavy on the interchange. NSW Origin Team: 1. Josh Dugan, 2. Daniel Tupou, 3. Michael Jennings, 4. Josh Morris, 5. Will Hopoate 6. Mitchell Pearce, 7. Trent Hodkinson 8. Aaron Woods, 9. Robbie Farah (c), 10. James Tamou, 11. Ryan Hoffman, 12. Beau Scott, 13. Josh Jackson. Interchange: 14. Trent Merrin, 15. Boyd Cordner, 16. David Klemmer, 17. Andrew Fifita. Queensland Origin Team: 1. Billy Slater, 2. Darius Boyd, 3. Greg Inglis, 4. Justin Hodges, 5. Will Chambers, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Cameron Smith (c), 10. Nate Myles, 11. Aidan Guerra, 12. Sam Thaiday, 13. Corey Parker Interchange: 14. Daly Cherry-Evans, 15. Jacob Lillyman, 16. Matt Gillett, 17. Josh McGuire