Fittler set to name record Origin rookie crop

Scott Bailey

NSW coach Brad Fittler is set to bank on a record number of debutants in the State of Origin series opener in Melbourne, with up to 11 rookies expected to be named.

Fittler will unveil his first Blues squad on Monday night, embarking on the biggest changing of the guard in Origin history following 12 years of mostly despair for NSW.

No team has ever picked more than 10 debutants - which Queensland did in Game I, 2001 - while NSW's record number of rookies is eight, most recently in the corresponding 2002 game.

The biggest questions still remain in the centres and halves, where seven players will fit into four with the majority of those in contention uncapped.

The one capped player - James Maloney - looks set to keep his No.6 jersey ahead of Luke Keary after he and Nathan Cleary pulled off a near-perfect audition in Penrith's 28-2 win over St George Illawarra on Saturday night.

"The thing that was impressive about (Penrith's) halves is they kept the pressure on the whole time," Fittler told the Nine's Footy Show.

"The one thing that is impressive about Jimmy Maloney is regardless of the score he knows how to get the ball down the other end.

Penrith coach Anthony Griffin says Origin hopeful James Maloney is the best playmaker in NSW. Pic: Supplied

"You need that kind of attitude in the games against the big teams."

Fittler's comments signified a change of tune on the two-time premiership winner, after he criticised the 31-year-old's defence on the same platform just a week earlier.

James Tedesco is favoured to retain the fullback role, meaning Tom Trbojevic is likely in a battle to earn his maiden Blues jumper at centre or on a wing.

Trbojevic's best chance may be on the right wing ahead of Canberra young gun Nick Cotric, with Melbourne flyer Josh Addo-Carr considered a near certainty on the left.

Trbojevic could also play in the centres, where Latrell Mitchell, James Roberts and Euan Aitken appear to be in a three-way shootout for two spots.

Roberts has impressed in recent weeks but has an Achilles injury, while Mitchell scored in the Sydney Roosters' win over the Gold Coast but his lack of involvement, with just two runs, would have concerned Blues selectors.

Meanwhile Jack de Belin is likely to be fit to make their debuts alongside fellow Dragons forwards Paul Vaughan and Tariq Sims if named.

He aggravated a hip injury in the Dragons' loss to Penrith, but he and Fittler were confident the issues wouldn't be long term.

"Jack de Belin has been one of the best players in the competition," Fittler said.

"The first Origin you've got 10 days. That helps both teams without a doubt and any Saints players in the team, which there will be ... need a couple of days breather."

However Cameron McInnes could be one Dragon to miss out, with Damien Cook the favourite to be named at hooker and fellow-rookie Tyrone Peachey likely to be used as a bench utility.

It leaves Maloney, Tedesco, Jake Trbojevic, Tyson Frizell, David Klemmer and captain Boyd Cordner as potentially the only survivors from last year's series loss.

Possible NSW side: James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic, Euan Aitken, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, James Maloney, Nathan Cleary, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Damien Cook, David Klemmer, Boyd Cordner (capt), Tyson Frizell, Jack de Belin. Interchange: Tyrone Peachey, Paul Vaughan, Jake Trbojevic, Tariq Sims.