Fielding rookies not a problem, says Fittler

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New South Wales’ new head coach Brad Fittler has today revealed his seventeen for the first State of Origin encounter next week (June 6th) and there is a number of players who are set to make their debut for the representative team.

In fact, a remarkable eleven rookies are set to be involved in the series opener, a record number, surpassing Queensland’s ten in the opening match in 2001, and the most inexperienced New South Wales team in thirty years for the three game series. Their Queensland opponents, despite missing the likes of Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk (retired) as well as Darius Boyd and Matt Scott, have over seventy more appearances in their ranks – a remarkable number considering that there are only three matches each year.

Speaking of his selection, Fittler – who will be embarking on his first State of Origin campaign as head coach having replaced Laurie Daley in the role – remarked that “I wasn’t concerned about debutants. The key is to get the right amount of experienced players and making sure they were fit as well.” James Tedesco and James Maloney (full back and half back) are the only non-rookies in the back division with Tom Trbojevic and Josh Addo-Carr set to line up on the wings outside Latrell Mitchell and James Roberts. Maloney’s Penrith Panthers teammate Nathan Cleary – son of West Tigers’ head coach Ivan – is set to make his Origin debut in the number 7 jersey. In the pack, only Boyd Cordner – captain and the scorer of the only try in last year’s RLWC final – David Klemmer, Tyson Frizell and Tom Trbojevic are the only remnants of the 2017 season. Damien Cook makes his bow at hooker with Reagan Campbell-Gillard joining him and Klemmer in the front row while Jack De Belin will pull on the number thirteen jersey. Paul Vaughan, Angus Crichton and Tyrone Peachey are also set to make their debut for the Blues.

New South Wales will be hoping to beat Queensland to the trophy with the Maroons having won the series in each of the last three years – the Blues last triumphant in 2014 – and Fittler, who is New South Wales’ record appearance holder in the contest, will be keen to be the man to turn his side’s fortunes around.

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