Shield-leading NSW face test without stars

NSW seam bowler Trent Copeland needs six wickets to claim 300 Sheffield Shield scalps

Runaway Sheffield Shield leaders NSW will have a more vulnerable look when they attempt to extend their perfect season start against Victoria at the MCG from Friday.

The Blues have four wins from as many matches and lead second-placed Queensland by 14 points while defending champions Victoria are winless and last.

But NSW will be without any of Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, and Nathan Lyon for the first time this season.

Replacing them in the match squad are Nick Bertus, Sean Abbott, Matthew Gilkes, Liam Hatcher, and Harry Conway.

Batsman Gilkes, 20, made his Shield and one-day debuts this season while 23-year-old paceman Hatcher made his one-day debut.

The changes will heap more responsibility on their veterans, captain Peter Nevill, Trent Copeland, Moises Henriques and Steve O'Keefe - all ex-Test players - along with Abbott, who recently reclaimed an Australian Twenty20 team berth.

Copeland needs six wickets to become the fourth player to claim 300 Shield wickets for the Blues behind Geoff Lawson (367), Greg Matthews (363) and Stuart MacGill (328).

The seamer has 294 wickets at 25.68 from 74 matches.

NSW squad: Peter Nevill (capt), Sean Abbott, Nick Bertus, Trent Copeland, Harry Conway, Matthew Gilkes, Liam Hatcher, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Steve O'Keefe, Daniel Solway.