Wayne Bennett has named a stunning 12 debutants in a "young and hungry" 21-man Maroons squad for the opening State of Origin clash in Adelaide with five-eighth Cameron Munster set to be a certain starter.
Bennett will run out eight debutants at Adelaide Oval on Wednesday with six named in the starting side on Thursday.
Titans fullback AJ Brimson, Storm centre Brenko Lee, wingers Xavier Coates and Phil Sami, hooker Jake Friend and lock Tino Fa’asumaleaui are the debutants named to start the match with Lindsay Collins and Jaydn Su’A on the bench.
A further four debutants – Kurt Capewell, Moeaki Fotuaika, Dunamis Lui and Hymel Hunt – have been selected as the four reserves.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 1 -
Venue: Adelaide Oval, Adelaide
Each state will trim their squad back to 19 on Tuesday and will announce their final 17 an hour before kick-off.
Fresh from winning the NRL title with the Storm, back-rower Felise Kaufusi said he had ultimate faith in the young pack he was ready to lead onto Adelaide Oval.
"I am still on cloud nine and I will be riding this energy for the whole camp. I can’t wait to get out there with all the fresh, new faces," Kaufusi said.
Match: Blues v Maroons
Game 1 -
Fullback for Blues is number 1 James TedescoFullback for Maroons is number 1 Alexander Brimson
Winger for Blues is number 2 Daniel TupouWinger for Maroons is number 2 Xavier Coates
Centre for Blues is number 3 Clinton GuthersonCentre for Maroons is number 4 Dane Gagai
Centre for Blues is number 4 Jack WightonCentre for Maroons is number 18 Kurt Capewell
Winger for Blues is number 5 Josh Addo-CarrWinger for Maroons is number 5 Phillip Sami
Five-Eighth for Blues is number 6 Luke KearyFive-Eighth for Maroons is number 6 Cameron Munster
Halfback for Blues is number 7 Nathan ClearyHalfback for Maroons is number 7 Daly Cherry-Evans
Prop for Blues is number 8 Daniel SaifitiProp for Maroons is number 8 Christian Welch
Hooker for Blues is number 9 Damien CookHooker for Maroons is number 9 Jake Friend
Prop for Blues is number 10 Junior PauloProp for Maroons is number 10 Josh Papalii
2nd Row for Blues is number 11 Boyd Cordner2nd Row for Maroons is number 11 Felise Kaufusi
2nd Row for Blues is number 12 Tyson Frizell2nd Row for Maroons is number 12 Coen Hess
Lock for Blues is number 13 Jake TrbojevicLock for Maroons is number 13 Tino Fa'asuamaleaui
Interchange for Blues is number 14 Cody WalkerInterchange for Maroons is number 14 Ben Hunt
Interchange for Blues is number 15 Payne HaasInterchange for Maroons is number 15 Lindsay Collins
Interchange for Blues is number 16 Cameron MurrayInterchange for Maroons is number 16 Jai Arrow
Interchange for Blues is number 17 Angus CrichtonInterchange for Maroons is number 17 Jaydn Su'A
- Referee: Gerard Sutton
- Touch Judge: Chris Butler
- Touch Judge: Todd Smith
"Looking around there is not too much game experience but that makes it more exciting. All those young guys are hungry."
Prop Christian Welch said players like Su’A were not to be underestimated.
"I unfortunately called for the ball when he was marking me and he put me into next week. It was my second game back in the NRL after my ACL and he really tested the knee out," Welch said of the South Sydney second-rower.
Sami eager to prove Maroons' credentials
"He was flogging me. He can really hit that bloke so I am really excited to see what he can do.
"There are plenty of boys there with plenty of whack, no-frills operators who are suited to the Origin environment. It is exciting for the forward pack to be going under the radar a little bit."
Munster had two MCL sprains this year and received a heavy knock to his knee in the qualifying final against the Eels before helping his side win the premiership.
Welch said the talismanic five-eighth would ensure he was right for Wednesday night after he was on light duties at Maroons training on Thursday.
"He is a really tough and resilient old-school footballer. That is the best way to sum up," Welch said.
"He has got a long-term partner now and has his routine. It is really important for players to find a routine for how they prepare physically and mentally and he is in a real sweet spot and at peace with how he prepares for games.
Moments that matter: Legends recall Origin highlights
"We flew to Sydney and his girlfriend had packed a chicken pesto. That is what he has before every game. He had a little Tupperware container on the bus he had taken all the way from the Sunshine Coast to Sydney."
Welch said Munster had already received some ribbing for his reaction to the knock he received during the finals against the Eels.
"We had our informal awards night at the Storm last week and he got the award for the grade-three carry-on for throwing his mouthguard at Suncorp like it all could be over," Welch grinned.
"All the journos took the bait and thought ‘is he going to come back for the prelim?’, but he is good."
Inglis closes door on Origin return
Munster celebrated the Storm’s premiership win with gusto, and was still going on Wednesday morning.
When asked if Munster was in more doubt from his knee or hangover, Kaufusi joked it was "$1.01 from his hangover".
"He knows how to have a good time," Kaufusi chuckled. "Everyone is carrying niggles and it is easy to get up for games like this. I am sure he will do everything he can to be ready.
"He is just a footy player who loves playing what is in front of him. He is robust as well. His footy speaks for itself and he will get himself right. That is just the person he is.
"It has been a massive couple of days but I got a good night’s sleep last night. This is our next job. We are in another bubble so all our focus is now on the game."