NSW Team Announced - Game I
James Maloney has won the contentious NSW five-eighth position and will partner Mitchell Pearce in the halves for the opening game of the Holden State of Origin Series at ANZ Stadium on June 5.
The Roosters five-eighth won the hotly contested battle ahead of incumbent Todd Carney and other candidates John Sutton and Josh Reynolds when the side was read out at Rugby League Central on Sunday afternoon.
While Carney was the incumbent playing all three games in the 2012 Series where the Blues were beaten by a late Cooper Cronk field goal in the deciding game, the club combination of the high-flying Roosters pair proved too good for coach Laurie Daley to ignore.
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Maloney will start in the number six jersey with history against him, no debuting five-eighth has ever won a game for the Blues.
Maloney is one of there players making their debut in the NSW side with Andrew Fifita and Blake Ferguson.
Fifita's stellar form for the Sharks earned him a call-up and is the bolter on the bench, while former captain Kurt Gidley returns to the side after missing the entire 2012 series through injury and will re-ignite his utility position on the bench.
Blake Ferguson stormed into the team with some impressive recent performances to be named on the wing in front of Akuila Uate and Nathan Merritt. The size, skill and perceived x-factor ability of Ferguson earned him the position, with Australian winger Brett Morris named on the other flank.
Captain Paul Gallen will start at prop for NSW, with Daley opting to play the inspirational skipper in the middle of the field and not in his preferred lock position.
Daley has opted to go with an agile pack with only two recognised props, Andrew Fifita and James Tamou. Trent Merrin who will play from the bench is formerly a prop but has been playing lock for the Dragons this season.
The NSW team on paper looks a mobile and attacking side, a backline full of pace and strength, backed-up by an agile forward pack that will work hard to tire the big Maroons squad.
The question for the Blues will be how they handle the Queensland forward juggernaut. Even with the loss of Petero Civinoceva (retired) and Ben Hannant (injured) it is believed Queensland will stick with their formula of big forwards including Matt Scott, David Shillington, Sam Thaiday and Martin Kennedy.
With an almost all-Australian backline, the Maroons will look to their big men to pound NSW into submission before letting their outside men take advantage of their well-established combinations.
The concerns for Queensland is a possible injury to Darius Boyd, while forward David Shillington and halfback Cooper Cronk were placed on report for separate incidents at the weekend.
The Maroons will name their side on Monday night.
NSW State of Origin team named on Sunday at Rugby League Central.
1. Jarryd Hayne (Eels)
2. Brett Morris (Dragons)
3. Michael Jennings (Roosters)
4. Josh Morris (Bulldogs)
5. Blake Ferguson (Raiders)
6. James Maloney (Roosters)
7. Mitchell Pearce (Roosters)
8. Paul Gallen (Sharks, capt)
9. Robbie Farah (Tigers)
10. James Tamou (Cowboys)
11. Ryan Hoffman (Storm)
12.Luke Lewis (Sharks)
13. Greg Bird (Titans)
14. Kurt Gidley (Knights)
15. Anthony Watmough (Manly)
16. Andrew Fifita (Sharks)
17. Trent Merrin (Dragons)
Likely Queensland side (to be named on Monday night at Suncorp Stadium).
Cameron Smith (c)