NRL rugby league football artwork
NRL rugby league football artwork

Sweet 16 can propel Blues to glory

THEY could be the Sweetest Sixteen in NSW's 38-year State of Origin history.

A precocious young group of players with prodigious talent - and without a single NSW appearance between them.

NSW are preparing to usher in a fresh and brave new era with 16 uncapped players jostling for NSW selection this series.

This is the new breed sending out a full-blown challenge to the Blues' incumbents.

The Daily Telegraph can reveal the Baby Blues queuing up for selection in Origin I at the MCG on June 6 - and they are all in sparkling form.

NSW coach Brad Fittler, his assistant Danny Buderus and chief adviser Greg Alexander have heavily discussed an extensive list of rookies ready to smash down the door for selection.

Those uncapped rookies gunning for the incumbents are Tom Trbojevic, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, Mitch Moses, Cameron McInnes, Luke Keary, Jack de Belin, Tariq Sims, Ryan James, James Roberts, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Paul Vaughan, Tyrone Peachey, Damien Cook, Nick Cotric and Euan Aitken.

Josh Addo-Carr is in the box seat to earn his Origin debut.
Josh Addo-Carr is in the box seat to earn his Origin debut.

They are eager, talented and ready.

"They are all challenging the incumbents. And we can only pick it on form," Alexander told The Daily Telegraph. "They have all been absolutely spoken about."

It could be the biggest turnover of debutants for NSW since 1984 and 1989 - when 15 rookies first started for the Blues.

And there would be similarities to the 2006 Queensland side, which drafted in 10 debutants in the first year of their 12-series dynasty.

Quite obviously all 16 won't be selected in one game but Fittler, Buderus and Alexander are ready to push through a new generation - over three matches this year or in 2019.

"There are a lot of players who haven't played Origin that are in terrific form," Alexander said.

"It's a chance to pick players on form and players that haven't been there before.

"There could be a lot of new blokes. They are all in the mix."

Will Cook earn his first taste of Origin football?
Will Cook earn his first taste of Origin football?

A new-look Blues side without any psychological damage would be deemed ready to confront and defeat the Queensland juggernaut.

There isn't a single player in the 16-man rookie group who hasn't endured sustained success and longevity in the NRL.

It is understood Moses was spoken about heavily before the season but his form waned after Parramatta's 0-6 start to the season. He is now squarely back in the frame after the Eels' back-to-back victories.

Moses' creativity is appealing to NSW given Origin games can traditionally be low-scoring affairs. James Maloney is a certainty with Moses, Keary and Jack Bird the other halves candidates.

Melbourne winger Addo-Carr is primed to win a spot although NSW's hierarchy is impressed with young Raiders flyer Nick Cotric.

De Belin and Campbell-Gillard are near certainties.

Could Nick Cotric be the player the Blues need?
Could Nick Cotric be the player the Blues need?

Campbell-Gillard played for Australia last year and has been close to the NRL's form front-rower this season.

But NSW's coaching staff is also aware of keeping a balance of youth and experience.

There are certainly more rookie players in form than incumbents but Alexander knows players must also be hardened when it comes to Origin.

"You still have to look at blokes who have shown they have previously handled Origin footy," Alexander said.

"When selecting the side, form is a priority but there are other factors that come into play as well."

Elite incumbent players considered near certainties include James Tedesco, Josh Dugan, David Klemmer, Jake Trbojevic, Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell. Forwards Aaron Woods, Josh Jackson and Wade Graham are pushing hard while Blake Ferguson will also be discussed, as always.

Newcastle's Mitchell Pearce and Penrith's Josh Mansour are unavailable through injury.



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