Former NSW hooker Michael Ennis has named the Blues’ team he would be taking into State of Origin I to take on the Maroons, with seven potential debutants.
Ennis, who featured in eight Origin performances for his state, has made a number of big calls within his projected team, including the absence of incumbent halves James Maloney and Nathan Cleary.
The Fox League expert decided to go with rookie Luke Keary and Rabbitohs star Adam Reynolds as the No. 6 and 7, answering the question pondered by many Blues supporters.
“Leaving James Maloney out of the side is a tough call. Jimmy was close to the Blues best last year, I’d go as far as to say that if he didn’t play last year then the Blues don’t win,” Ennis told foxsports.com.au.
“All the creativity and enthusiasm from the Blues started from him, but the form of Luke Keary is just too good to refuse.
“If it was tough leaving James Maloney out of the side, it was just as tough to leave Nathan Cleary out of the side. Cleary was solid for the Blues last year and didn’t do anything wrong, but his form this year has been a little patchy and he hasn’t done anything to scream out, ‘you can’t leave me out’.
“A bit like Keary, Adam Reynolds’ form has been irresistible this season, he’s been there and done it before and won’t let anyone down.”
While he weighed up several players, Ennis has selected Nick Cotric and Jesse Ramien to make their Origin debuts across the backline.
Along with this duo, Ennis predicted all of Cameron Murray, Jack Wighton, Payne Haas and Dale Finucane to make their debut off the bench.
One player which interested him is Broncos youngster Kotoni Staggs, and made a case for his selection.
“Kotoni Staggs is one young player who wouldn’t look out of place in a sky blue jersey,” Ennis said.
“He’s been in tremendous form since being given a chance by Anthony Seibold. The Blues have a host of injuries in that right centre position and Staggs has shown how damaging he can be both on and off the ball.”
The Blues are expected to reveal their squad for the series opener this Sunday, with game one played at Suncorp Stadium on June 5.
Michael Ennis’ NSW Blues team:
1 James Tedesco
2 Nick Cotric
3 Latrell Mitchell
4 Jesse Ramien
5 Josh Addo-Carr
6 Luke Keary
7 Adam Reynolds
8 Paul Vaughan
9 Damien Cook
10 David Klemmer
11 Boyd Cordner
12 Tyson Frizell
13 Jake Trbojevic
14 Cameron Murray
15 Jack Wighton
16 Payne Haas
17 Dale Finucane