Cameron Murray and Junior Paulo have been relegated to the bench for NSW with Liam Martin into the starting side at second row and Reagan Campbell-Gillard at prop while Jai Arrow has been given the nod as Maroons’ 18th man with Tom Dearden relegated to the reserves.
The three-match series then heads to Perth on Sunday June 26 before Game 3 on Wednesday July 13 in Brisbane.
The Blues and Maroons both initially named 22-man squads with the Blues finalising their match-day 19 on Origin eve cutting out Jacob Saifiti, Joseph Suaalii and Api Koroisau. Tyson Frizell was omitted an hour before kick-off.Advertisement
Queensland have omitted Tom Dearden as the last man from their squad with Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Murray Taulagi and Tom Flegler left out.
When the teams were trimmed back to 18-man line-ups at 7.10pm, Nicho Hynes was named as the Blues’ standby reserve with Jai Arrow filling the role for the Queenslanders.
Brian To’o: Missed six games with a knee injury but has been back to his metre-eating best at Penrith over the past month.
Kotoni Staggs: Brisbane’s most dynamic attacking weapon is on debut at Origin level and the 23-year-old has been given his preferred right edge which means he should retain his spot for game two with a strong performance even if Latrell Mitchell overcomes his hamstring injury.
Jack Wighton: A surprise choice at left centre ahead of Stephen Crichton but Fittler is a fan of his physical style at Origin level. The Canberra five-eighth has played five of his nine games for the Blues in the centres.
Daniel Tupou: Has the height to match Queensland’s expected aerial raids, controversially getting him the nod on the left flank ahead of Josh Addo-Carr. Played four Origins in 2014-15 and all three matches of the 2020 series loss but was not used last year.
Jarome Luai: A tough marker, he has not been overly impressed with his club form at Penrith but his combination with Nathan Cleary is the best in the NRL and they proved at Origin and in the finals last year that they can get the job done at the top level.
Nathan Cleary: The most complete player in the NRL, a strong Origin series should get him ahead of Daly Cherry-Evans for the Kangaroos No.7 jersey at the World Cup.
Payne Haas: Contract dramas weighed on him in Brisbane’s win over the Titans with the Broncos fans booing him. Haas has only started in two of his seven Origins but deserves to be in the run-on team so the Blues can gain the early ascendancy in the middle.
Damien Cook: Is heavily scrutinised at club level but was rightly retained at take ahead of Penrith’s Api Koroisau. Not guaranteed to keep his Kangaroos berth ahead of Harry Grant so a strong Origin series is essential to his World Cup claims.
16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard: Back in sky-blue for the first time since his only Origin 2018, elevated to the starting side in a late switch.
15. Liam Martin: Equally adept on an edge or in the middle, his injection into the fray from the get-go will mean there’s no let-up for Queensland from the opening whistle.
12. Tariq Sims: Only the Dragons know why they’re offloading Sims to the Storm while they’re keeping other veterans who contribute a whole lot less then their only Origin representative apart from Ben Hunt.
13. Isaah Yeo: In superb form to be second on the Dally M leaderboard. His ball-playing skills at club level are not as essential in Origin but he also has the high aerobic capacity to do the mountain of work NSW need from their back-rowers.
10. Junior Paulo: One of three Eels in the NSW forward rotation, he offers the Blues a subtle point of difference with his skill before and after impact.
11. Cameron Murray: Made a successful early return from minor shoulder surgery in Round 12. The South Sydney lock was vital for the Blues playing on an edge in all three games last year.
14. Stephen Crichton: Can fill in anywhere in the outside backs which means Wighton can switch to the halves or forwards if needed.
17. Ryan Matterson: Fittler loves bench forwards with versatility and after being dropped by Parramatta late last season, Matterson has reinvigorated his career by spending plenty of time as a middle forward. As one of the few top-line talents off contract at season’s end, he’s in line for a hefty pay increase wherever he signs his next deal.
18th man: 18. Nicho Hynes: His versatility means he’s the perfect option as the standby player. It’s better than being left right out but after filling that role for Melbourne in a grand final and the Blues in game three last year, it’s not one that he will want too many more times.
19. Tyson Frizell: His club form has not been up to his usual high standards but he’s a total professional who will ensure the inexperienced Blues forwards are ready for game time.
20. Jacob Saifiti: A bit of a left-field selection who has been solid for Newcastle without being spectacular.
21. Joseph Suaalii: The young Rooster is ostensibly in the squad to soak up the experience for when he makes the leap in the future. With the way Fittler likes to throw selection curveballs, it wouldn’t be too much of a shock if he gets a run later in this year’s series.
22. Api Koroisau: Was heavily sanctioned after breaching protocols in camp last year. Will be allowed to leave officially this time around to play for Penrith on Friday against Canterbury.
Kalyn Ponga: A big-game player who has excelled in his four matches for the Maroons. Knights fans wish they could see more of that at club level.
Selwyn Cobbo: Only 19 games into his NRL career at the Broncos, he will be targeted by the Blues kickers in what will likely be slippery conditions next Wednesday night at Accor Stadium even if the rain stays away.
Valentine Holmes: Has rejuvenated his career at the Cowboys by switching to centre after failing to rediscover his 2019 form at fullback last year. Likely to be Queensland’s goal kicker ahead of Ponga.
Dane Gagai: With 11 tries in 19 Origins, the veteran centre is fifth on the all-time leaderboard and will move alongside his coach, Billy Slater, and another Maroons legend in Dale Shearer in a share of third with his next four-pointer. Greg Inglis (18) and Darius Boyd (17) are safe, for now.
Xavier Coates: Has rectified problems with his defence which plagued him at Brisbane and has been a standout performer for the Storm this season with 11 tries in as many appearances.
Cameron Munster: Loves the big stage. His alpha male personality can translate into match-winning efforts like his 2020 Wally Lewis Medal campaign but can also backfire like the grand final a couple of years earlier when he ended up in the sin bin twice.
Daly Cherry-Evans: Has grown into his leadership role in the past few years but is facing competition on two fronts from Tedesco and Cleary for the captaincy and halfback roles with the Kangaroos at the World Cup.
Tino Fa’asuamaleaui: The one Titans forward who has lived up to his reputation this year, he was harsh on his own performance when they coughed up a big lead to Brisbane last weekend but unlike at club level, he can focus on his ram-raiding role with the Maroons without worrying about carrying his teammates.
Ben Hunt: Will probably switch to a small-ball lock role when Harry Grant comes onto the field. In tremendous form at the Dragons to lead the Dally M Medal count at the halfway point of the season.
Josh Papalii: Although it feels like he’s been around forever, the Raiders veteran has only just turned 30 and with 20 Origins already under his belt, he will overtake Maroons royalty like Shane Webcke, Cooper Cronk and Trevor Gillmeister on the all-time list of games played if he suits up for all three matches this year.
Kurt Capewell: His versatility of being able to play in the outside backs means Queensland can afford to carry a specialist hooker in Harry Grant on the bench with three forwards.
Felise Kaufusi: Not as dominant as he once was at club level but still more than a headache for opposition packs.
Reuben Cotter: Has fought back from serious knee surgeries to establish his place as the heartbeat of the Cowboys pack. Cotter should thrive in the intensity of the Origin arena where elbow grease is valued higher than elaborate skill.
Harry Grant: Sat out Melbourne’s win over Manly in Round 12 with a thigh problem but is fine for the Maroons. He made one of the more memorable recent debuts in Queensland’s game-three series-winning upset in 2020 but only played Origin I last year due to a hamstring tear.
Lindsay Collins: Looked at home in elite company in his first Origin foray of 2020 and would have also played all three games last year if not for the ACL year which ended his season early.
Patrick Carrigan: Another player who has blazed his way down the comeback trail after a knee reconstruction. On debut, the young Bronco has the ability to play big minutes if injuries throw Slater’s plans astray.
Jeremiah Nanai: The Maroons have been crying out for a forward with late footwork to bust a game wide open. Slater will probably delay brining Nanai on until late in the first half where he could cause havoc against tiring defenders.
18th man: 19. Jai Arrow: Has been performing well for Souths so his demotion to the reserves may have more to do with the drama he caused when found to have breached biosecurity rules in camp last year.
18: Tom Dearden: Leaving the bright lights of Brisbane for the Cowboys has done wonders for the young playmaker who now also has stronger defensive chops to complement his clever attacking skills.
20. Thomas Flegler: Got his first taste of Origin in last year’s consolation win in the series finale. Relished the challenge of playing in elite company and will probably get another run later in this series.
21. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow: Another player who made the most of his Origin III call-up last year who probably would have been in the run-on side of his 2022 season hadn’t been interrupted for a month with a knee problem.
22. Murray Taulagi: Struggled to establish himself at NRL level when given a try at centre but has kicked on as a winger over the past 12 months, scoring 10 tries last year and seven from 12 games in 2022.
Paul has been in sports journalism for a quarter of a century, the past four years as editor-in-chief at NRL.com after stints as Sun-Herald sports editor, Sydney Morning Herald deputy sports editor, Daily Telegraph sports chief of staff and as a reporter at the Illawarra Mercury.