New South Wales coach Laurie Daley has named his side for the second game of the 2014 State Of Origin Series; with Josh Dugan, Will Hopoate and Greg Bird recalled to the starting side.
Hopoate has been named on the wing, in place of Brett Morris, and will be making his first State Of Origin appearance since 2011, while Dugan will play in the centers after impressing in the role for the St. George Illawarra Dragons against the Cronulla Sharks on Saturday.
Greg Bird was named at lock after missing the 2014 State Of Origin Series opener due to injury and will take the place of Tony Williams, who was named as 18th man, while Paul Gallen will start at prop and James Tamou on the bench.
“It’s always difficult to leave someone out of a team that has performed so well,” Daley said.
“I had to find a position for Birdy and T-Rex is the unlucky one.”
Dugan will be playing his fourth State Of Origin game for New South Wales at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday, but will be playing in the centres for the first time after starring at fullback in the last two games of last year’s series – although Daley does not think that will be a problem for a player that he considers one of the best big game players in the NRL
“I think Josh is a footballer,” Daley said.
“He was close to our best player in the series last year, albeit in a different position.”
Hopoate starred when made his State Of Origin debut in the second game of the 2011 series, but has played only 12 games in the past three seasons after walking away from Rugby League to go on a Mormon mission.
Daley has been happy with the way that Hopoate has performed since joining the Parramatta Eels at the start of the season and is confident that the solid centre can stamp himself as a permanent fixture in the New South Wales State Of Origin side.
“We are confident that he can handle it and while he has been out of the game over the last two years, the games that he has played this year he hasn’t looked out of place,” Daley said.
“He played well in the City-Country game and I think that he is a kid that the more you give him the more he wants and he will handle it well.”
New South Wales have been well-backed to win their first State Of Origin Series in nine years and are currently available at odds of $1.57, with leading online bookmaker Ladbrokes.com.au, to close out the Series with a win at ANZ Stadium next Wednesday.
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2014 New South Wales State Of Origin Game 1 Team
1. Jarryd Hayne
2. Will Hopoate
3. Josh Dugan
4. Michael Jennings
5. Daniel Tupou
6. Josh Reynolds
7. Trent Hodkinson
8. Paul Gallen
9. Robbie Farah
10. Aaron Woods
11. Beau Scott
12. Ryan Hoffman
13. Greg Bird
14. James Tamou
15. Anthony Watmough
16. Trent Merrin
17. Luke Lewis