RugbyL: Blues bet on rookie halves to end Maroons domination

New South Wales will gamble on an untried halves combination to wrest State of Origin rugby league supremacy away from Queensland in the series opener in Brisbane on Wednesday.

Blues' coach Laurie Daley is pitting the Canterbury combination of Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds up against Queensland's crack Test halves Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk.

Mal Meninga's Maroons are bidding for their ninth straight Origin series triumph as NSW look for their first series win since 2005.

Hodkinson and Reynolds are the 16th halves partnership used by NSW in nine years as the Blues look for the elusive winning formula.

Daley axed the Sydney Roosters duo of Mitchell Pearce and James Maloney to give the Bulldogs' pair a try in what has proved a troublesome selection issue.

In contrast Thurston and Cronk are lining up for their seventh consecutive Origin game together after Cronk came in following Darren Lockyer's retirement in 2011.

"We know each other's game very well, each other's strengths and try to work to them as much as possible," Thurston said.

Thurston warned the rookie Blues' halves to expect a totally different experience to what they are accustomed to playing in the National Rugby League.

"It's going to be tough, there's no doubt about that," he said.

"They are playing some good football at the 'Dogs (Canterbury) but Origin is a whole different ball game.

"They will realise on Wednesday night what it is like."

Daley sees his selection of the new halves as a "calculated gamble."

"With Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds, they're playing extremely well for the team leading the comp, they're in career-best form and we decided it was the right time to go that way," he said.

Yet again the Maroons will relish another crack at their cross-border rivals with their big-match players Cameron Smith, Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Thurston and Cronk expected to dominate the series outcome.

In the last eight seasons Queensland have won 17 encounters against NSW's seven victories.

Test great Meninga has not yet lost an Origin series since taking over from Michael Hagan in 2006 and has 17 wins and seven defeats.

Daley is in his second season in charge of NSW and is the fourth coach used in nine years.


Queensland (1-17) - Billy Slater; Brent Tate, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd; Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk; Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Nate Myles, Chris McQueen, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker.

Interchange: Daly Cherry-Evans, Aidan Guerra, Ben Te'o, Josh Papalii.

New South Wales (1-17) - Jarryd Hayne, Brett Morris, Josh Morris, Michael Jennings, Daniel Tupou, Josh Reynolds, Trent Hodkinson, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, James Tamou, Ryan Hoffman, Beau Scott, Paul Gallen (capt).

Interchange: Anthony Watmough, Tony Williams, Trent Merrin, Luke Lewis.

Referees: Shayne Hayne and Ben Cummins