Joint 2020 Meninga Medalists Josh Papalii and Jack Wighton will go head to head in this year’s State of Origin opener in Adelaide on Wednesday night, 4 November.
Both players were automatic selections after outstanding individual season for the Canberra Raiders. Papalii has been named to start at prop for the Queensland Maroons while 2020 Dally M Medalist Wighton will line up in the centres for the NSW Blues like he did in games two and three of their 2-1 series victory last year.
Dunamis Lui (Queensland) and Nick Cotric (NSW) were the other two Raiders picked in the initial 27-man squads but have both been left out of game one.
Queensland will lean heavily on the experience of Papalii as he lines for his 16th Origin appearance, with coach Wayne Bennett picking eight uncapped players for the series opener as they look to avoid their third straight series defeat.
AJ Brimson will line up at fullback, replacing the injured Kalyn Ponga, with Xavier Coates and Phillip Sami on the wings and Brenko Lee in the centres.
Veteran Jake Friend has won the battle for the number 9 jersey and will play his first Origin, with Harry Grant missing out.
Recent premiership winner Tino Fa’asuamaleaui has been named to start at lock after a breakout season, while Linsday Collins and Jaydn Su’A are on the bench to round out the debutants.
Meanwhile, Wighton will line up for his fourth Origin in a more experienced Blues side, with coach Brad Fittler picking just three rookies for game one.
Clint Gutherson will partner Wighton in the centres, while Luke Keary finally gets his chance at five-eighth and former Raider Junior Paulo will start at prop after his career-best season.
Two firsts will be created in the 40th year of State of Origin, with the series being played at the conclusion of the club season and game one being the first Origin match played at Adelaide Oval.
|NSW BLUES||QLD MAROONS|
|1||James Tedesco||1||AJ Brimson|
|2||Daniel Tupou||2||Xavier Coates|
|3||Clint Gutherson||3||Brenko Lee|
|4||Jack Wighton||4||Dane Gagai|
|5||Josh Addo-Carr||5||Phillip Sami|
|6||Luke Keary||6||Cameron Munster|
|7||Nathan Cleary||7||Daly Cherry-Evans|
|8||Daniel Saifiti||8||Christian Welch|
|9||Damien Cook||9||Jake Friend|
|10||Junior Paulo||10||Josh Papalii|
|11||Boyd Cordner||11||Coen Hess|
|12||Tyson Frizell||12||Felise Kaufusi|
|13||Jake Trbojevic||13||Tino Fa’asuamaleaui|
|14||Cody Walker||14||Ben Hunt|
|15||Payne Haas||15||Linsday Collins|
|16||Cameron Murray||16||Jai Arrow|
|17||Angus Crichton||17||Jaydyn Su’A|