SYDNEY (AP) Incoming coach Brad Fittler has taken drastic steps in an effort to reverse New South Wales’ losing history in the State of Origin rugby league, naming 11 newcomers in his squad for the series opener against Queensland on June 6.
No team in series history had made more than 10 changes to its squad. The last time that happened was with Queensland in the first game of the 2001 series.
New South Wales, who hadn’t had more than eight players on debut since 2002, has won the three-match series only once in 12 years.
Fittler has retained only six players who turned out in game three of last year’s series – won 2-1 by Queenland. Captain Boyd Cordner returns along with James Maloney, David Klemmer, Tyson Frizell, Jake Trbojevic and James Tedecsco.
The New South Wales team is the most inexperienced in the 34-year history of the State of Origin series with a combined total of only 39 State matches.
Maloney is likely to combine in the halves with Penrith teammate Nathan Cleary, who is expected to make his debut at age 20.
Penrith also provides newcomers Tyrone Peachey and Regan Campbell-Gillard, while Souths hooker Damien Cook, Brisbane center James Robers and Roosters center Lattrell Mitchell are also slated for debuts after performing well in the National Rugby League.
Fullback Greg Inglis will take over from the retired Cameron Smith as captain of a Queensland team which includes three players on debut.
Coach Kevin Walters has discarded veterans Matt Scott and Darius Boyd, who have a combined a total of 50 State appearances. The absence of Smith, Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk takes away the experience of a further 101 State matches.
Brisbane hooker Andrew McCullough, Melbourne backrower Felise Kaufusi and Gold Coast’s Jai Arrow will debut with the responsibility of making up for that loss
New South Wales: James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Ado-Carr, Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts, James Maloney, Nathan Cleary, Damien Cook, David Klemmer, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Boyd Cordner (captain), Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin. Interchange: Paul Vaughan, Jake Trbojevic, Angus Crichton, Tyrone Peachey
Queensland: Billy Slater, Valentine Holmes, Greg Inglis (captain), 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