RugbyL: Blues name record 11 rookies for Origin series opener

Sydney (AFP) –


New South Wales will field a record 11 debutants while Greg Inglis will lead Queensland in the Australian State of Origin rugby league opener next week.

New Blues coach Brad Fittler unveiled his 17-man squad on Monday for the June 6 series opener at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

It will be the most number of rookies in the most inexperienced Blues side in more than three decades for the best-of-three interstate series.

"I wasn't concerned about debutants," said Fittler, who replaces Laurie Daley after the departing coach's solitary series win in 2014.

"The key is to get the right amount of experienced players and making sure they were fit as well."

Queensland's side will have 73 games more experience, despite veterans Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston, Darius Boyd and Matt Scott all absent through retirement or injury.

Fittler has named Josh Addo-Carr and Tom Trbojevic on the wings outside centres Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts.

Young Penrith scrum-half Nathan Cleary will partner club-mate James Maloney in the halves, while South Sydney rookie hooker Damien Cook gets his chance at representative level.

Captain Boyd Cordner, James Tedesco, James Maloney, David Klemmer, Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic are the only survivors from the 2017 series.

Inglis replaces Cameron Smith, who announced his retirement from representative football earlier this month following 42 Origins for Queensland and 56 Test matches for Australia.

Brisbane Broncos hooker Andrew McCullough is one of three debutants for Queensland along with Melbourne's Felise Kaufusi and Jai Arrow of the Gold Coast Titans.

Queensland have dominated the fiercely contested annual Origin series in recent years, winning 11 of the last 12 series.

Teams (1-17)

NSW - James Tedesco; Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, Josh Addo-Carr; James Maloney, Nathan Cleary; David Klemmer, Damien Cook, Reagan Campbell-Gillard; Boyd Cordner (capt), Tyson Frizell; Jack de Belin.

Interchange: Paul Vaughan, Jake Trbojevic, Angus Crichton, Tyrone Peachey.

Queensland - Billy Slater; Valentine Holmes, Greg Inglis (capt), Will Chambers, Dane Gagai; Cameron Munster, Ben Hunt; Dylan Napa, Andrew McCullough, Jarrod Wallace; Gavin Cooper, Felise Kaufusi; Josh McGuire.

Interchange: Michael Morgan, Josh Papalii, Coen Hess, Jai Arrow.