A stalwart in the NSW Blues side during his playing days with the Cronulla Sharks, Paul Gallen has predicted what the NSW Blues team will look like for the opening game of the 2024 State of Origin series.

In predicting the team, Gallen has made many surprising choices, including not selecting Wests Tigers hooker Apisai Koroisau, recalling Latrell Mitchell back to Origin and handing four players their State of Origin debut.

Publishing an article on the Wide World of Sports, the ex-Blues skipper has left out the likes of Matt Burton, Dylan Edwards, Wayde Egan, Reece Robson, Josh Addo-Carr, Stefano Utoikamanu, Kotoni Staggs, Ryan Matterson, Junior Paulo, Jack Wighton, Cody Walker and Reagan Campbell-Gillard, along with Koroisau.

Instead he has chosen Blayke Brailey, Cameron McInnes, Spencer Leniu and Haumole Olakau'atu to make their Origin debut for the NSW Blues.

"Obviously the first name in the team that would make a bit of noise is Latrell Mitchell but I just think we need his x-factor," Gallen wrote on WWOS.

"At Origin level you need players who can make something happen out of nothing and we all know Latrell has that rare quality.

"He's only played seven games this year and he's scored five tries - clearly he's a game breaker.

"The other important factor is he's been there before and the Blues haven't won a series since he last played for them."

Deciding to choose Blayke Brailey in the hooker role instead of Apisai Koroisau, Gallen revealed the reason for his surprising decision, which has intrigued fans and readers.

"It's not Koroisau's fault that the Tigers are going poorly and have struggled basically the whole time he's been at the club but don't underestimate the confidence you get from winning games and for that reason Brailey deserves his opportunity," he added.

"Don't get me wrong, if the Blues pick Koroisau I'll support that decision because it's basically a flip of the coin, but Brailey is nothing but quality and I'd like to see him rewarded for a really strong couple of years at club level."

Paul Gallen's Predicted Game 1 NSW Blues Team

1. James Tedesco
2. Brian To'o
3. Stephen Crichton
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Zac Lomax
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nicho Hynes
8. Payne Haas
9. Blayke Brailey
10. Jake Trbojevic
11. Liam Martin
12. Hudson Young
13. Isaah Yeo

Interchange
14. Cameron McInnes
15. Spencer Leniu
16. Haumole Olakau'atu
17. Angus Crichton