Injury and off-field controversy have forced New South Wales to make some key changes to their team before their crucial state of origin two clash against the all-conquering Maroons in Brisbane on Wednesday week.
The Blues put themselves in the box seat to end Queensland’s seven-series period of origin dominance when winning game one at home but will be without star fullback Jarryd Hayne this time around.
The Parramatta custodian was one of the Blues best in game one but they have a ready-made replacement in Josh Dugan. The troubled star has been in sensational form since joining the Dragons and is expected to add similar attacking potency to that of Hayne.
With the NRL suspending Raiders winger Blake Ferguson’s contract following an alleged nightclub incident, Rabbitohs try sneak Nathan Merritt earns a much-deserved call-up to the big time. Merritt has been one of the most prolific tryscorers in the NRL of late and many fans have been calling for his selection for some time.
Also making their debut for the Blues is Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods who replaces Cowboys big man James Tamou. Tamou is out due to an off-field incident, having been charged with drink driving in Townsville last week.
They are the only three changes from the side that out-muscled the Maroons in game one on home soil.
The Blues will again look to their big mento lay the platform, with the likes of captain Paul Gallen and tough backrowers Greg Bird and Luke Lewis ensuring the Blues won the forwards battle in the opener.
2013 NEW SOUTH WALES TEAM (GAME 2)
1. Josh Dugan (Dragons)
2. Brett Morris (Dragons)
3. Michael Jennings (Roosters)
4. Josh Morris (Bulldogs)
5. Nathan Merritt (Rabbitohs)
6. James Maloney (Roosters)
7. Mitchell Pearce (Roosters)
8. Paul Gallen (Sharks, capt)
9. Robbie Farah (Tigers)
10. Aaron Woods (Tigers)
11. Ryan Hoffman (Storm)
12.Luke Lewis (Sharks)
13. Greg Bird (Titans)
14. Andrew Fifita (Sharks)
15. Trent Merrin (Dragons)
16. Anthony Watmough (Manly)
17. Josh Reynolds (Bulldogs)
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