State of Origin: Laurie Daley gets to shuffle a full NSW Blues deck


Will Hopoate looks on during the NSW Blues State of Origin training session. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

Will Hopoate looks on during the NSW Blues State of Origin training session. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

NSW coach Laurie Daley is far from settled on his starting 13 for State of Origin II despite naming an injury-free team for next Wednesday's ANZ Stadium encounter.

Queensland named a 22-man squad on Monday for the return Origin fixture due to injury concerns.

Daley has no such problems as the Blues seek to break the Maroons' eight-year interstate stranglehold.

However, the Blues' mentor said at his team announcement on Tuesday he would keep his options open despite naming Josh Dugan at centre for the injured Josh Morris, and Will Hopoate on the wing for the sidelined Brett Morris.

Greg Inglis is in doubt for Origin II with an ankle injury, but his likely presence is playing on Daley's mind as he says he is yet to commit to a mark for the Maroons' all-time leading tryscorer.

"Duges is another option for us on the wing if we decide to play him there, or if we can play Will in the centres," Daley said.

"If we want, we can start with Beau Scott or Luke Lewis in the centres, and bring one of those guys [Dugan or Hopoate] off the bench.

"We have a number of options so we will keep it open but, at this stage, we are confident that whoever is there will do the job."

Daley said he briefly considered playing game one's man of the match Jarryd Hayne in the centres but decided he best served the team at fullback.

In other selection changes from Origin I, Gold Coast back-rower Greg Bird returns from suspension, with NSW captain Paul Gallen moving to prop to accommodate the Blues enforcer.

That pushes James Tamou onto the bench with Tony Williams dumped from the Blues' side.

Daley was adamant Hopoate was ready for a return to Origin after three years' absence, and two years out of the NRL on a Mormon mission.

"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.

"He is someone that will be a part of this team for years to come.

"There are areas he still needs to improve on, but he is a guy that is willing to learn, and absorbs information very well and I think you can see from his first game to his 12th game [this year] how far he has come."

Hopoate said he was glad to be back after playing his only interstate game in NSW's Origin II win in 2011.

"This is a dream come true," he said.

"I'm grateful to be here, I'm feeling happy, and to be around these players will definitely help me out."

Daley was at pains to stress that the Blues had won nothing yet after their epic 12-8 win in game one.

"I would be disappointed if our guys were getting carried away and getting ahead of themselves because we have been in this situation before where you win one game and your next performance is not great," he said. AAP


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