Wallace gets NSW nod
Origin rookie handed half-back role in opener
Last Updated: 13/05/08 7:53am
New South Wales have named Brisbane half-back Peter Wallace in the starting line-up for the opening State Of Origin match against Queensland on May 21.
The 22-year-old stand-off was given the nod ahead of seasoned performers Brett Finch, Matt Orford and Jarrod Mullen after Kurt Gidley was ruled out with a fractured cheekbone.
Wallace will make his debut alongside Australia international Greg Bird, who plays at lock for Sharks but has filled in as pivot for the 'Roos' last two games.
Manly prop Brent Kite was overlooked just four days after playing in Australia's win over New Zealand, the selectors instead going for Brett White and Ben Cross.
"Brent was in our discussions for a long time but this is a team we thnk will do the best job in the way we want to play the game," coach Craig Bellamy said.
Gold coast forward Antony Laffranchi makes his Origin debut from the bench, which also sees a return for veteran backrow Craig Fitzgibbon.
Queensland have opted for Karmichael Hunt at half-back alongside Johnathan Thurston in place of the injured skipper Darren Lockyer.
The decision means in-form Titans player Scott Prince misses out with Billy Slater slotting in at fullback.
"It's a big job to fill obviously with a player of Darren's calibre not available, but we feel Hunt has played a fair bit in that position and he's very strong in defence," said chairman of selectors Des Morris.
"We think he'll be a good mix with Johnathan."
Carl Webb was named in the front row next to Australia skipper Cameron Smith, who takes over the Queensland captaincy in Lockyer's absence.
Queensland won last year's three-match series 2-1.
New South Wales: Brett Stewart; Jarryd Hayne, Mark Gasnier, Matt Cooper, Anthony Quinn; Greg Bird, Peter Wallace; Brett White, Danny Buderus (capt), Ben Cross; Ryan Hoffman, Willie Mason; Paul Gallen.
Interchange: Anthony Laffranchi, Anthony Tupou, Craig Fitzgibbon, Ben Hornby.
Queensland: Billy Slater; Brent Tate, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Israel Folau; Karmichael Hunt, Johnathan Thurston; Carl Webb, Cameron Smith (capt), Petero Civoniceva; Michael Crocker, Sam Thaiday; Dallas Johnson.
Interchange: PJ Marsh, Ben Hannant, Nate Myles, Jacob Lillyman.