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Jackson wary of energetic Qld rookies

Blues back-rower Josh Jackson is on high alert with four Queensland debutants brimming with youth and enthusiasm set to bring the Maroons to life in Game Two next Wednesday.

Australian halfback Johnathan Thurston makes a timely return but his combination with Cowboys teammates Gavin Cooper and Coen Hess at club level are the added bonus that is set to spark the side's edge attack for the must-win clash.

The 26-year-old was in a similar position back in 2015 when he made his Origin debut in the 11-10 loss to the Maroons in Game One, before Laurie Daley's side fought back to level the series in Melbourne. 

"I'd imagine it would be a pretty nervous thing [making an Origin debut] particularly being one game down but on the other side of that they bring a lot of energy to the team which is dangerous," Jackson said on Thursday.

"I guess no one knows if you're ready for Origin unless you throw yourself in there and see how you go."

The inclusions of debutants Hess, Jarrod Wallace and Tim Glasby in the forward pack will force the Blues to study up on their opposition more than usual with Kevin Walter's seven changes after an Origin game the most for Queensland since 2003. 

After taking on Hess and the Cowboys four weeks ago, Jackson will be on "Hess watch" once more after 10 tries in 13 appearances in the Telstra Premiership this season.

Jackson believes the team changes will enable Maroons forward Josh Papalii to shift into the middle of the forward pack and play a more dominant role. 

Papalii was well-handled by the Blues in Game One with 13 carries in a 60-minute showing. 

"[Hess] is a big body and confident young kid so I'm sure he will do well," Jackson said.

"He can be dangerous and we've seen with the ball in his hand he can score tries so he's a danger man for sure.

"We had done a fair bit of work on him [at the Bulldogs], particularly the guys out on the edge. He's a big strong thing and near the try line he's got good footwork and the ability to beat players.

"Jimmy (James Maloney) and Mitch [Pearce] are going to have to be ready for him.

"I think Papalii coming into their middle, who was one of their best in Game One, he'll have his hands on the ball a lot more with his footwork and size."

Despite an even weight of possession and high completion rates from both sides, the Blues were all over Queensland up the middle of the field and Jackson is confident the side can seal the series with another strong performance in that area – despite the returns of Thurston and Billy Slater.

"The experience and knowledge those two will bring to the team and the confidence, they're game winners and have been doing it in Origin for the last two years," he said.

"That's pretty hard to stop when the other team has momentum in Origin."


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