Bulldogs Youth Wins Over Veteran Blues
After Bulldogs duo Josh Jackson and David Klemmer were handed their maiden NSW Origin jerseys on Monday, Blues coach Laurie Daley plans on ushering in a new era of New South Welshmen over the coming series.
As Paul Gallen and Greg Bird sit idly by on the sideline injured and suspended respectively as well as Luke Lewis and Anthony Watmough's omissions, Daley said he had no qualms with the team selected to tackle the might of Queensland on May 27.
In fact with six changes to the team which took the field in Origin III last year, Daley said the only difficulties he faced was informing individuals such as Lewis and Josh Reynolds about not being picked.
"In terms of choosing the team it was an easy decision but in terms of not selecting a couple of guys it was tough because they have been a big part of the team [previously]," Daley said.
"I'm really excited about the bunch of guys we have put together, they're a good bunch and I know they'll work hard. It's always tough because the number one thing you look for in a player is whether they're a good person or not and someone like Luke [Lewis] ticks that box.
"[Lewis] brings a lot to the team and then you have to weigh whether you stick with them or whether you think you need to go in another direction with someone who has probably been playing good football for a number of years, who's a little bit younger and you can't deny him an opportunity, which is basically what we've done."
Enter Jackson and Klemmer.
With the Andrew Fifita and Mitchell Pearce named to return to the Origin arena as well as Tyson Frizell's inclusion at 18th man, Daley is confident the duo will be up for the task.
"I just like their work-rate and their ability to get things done. Both have played for Australia and in grand finals and both know what the big occasion brings and what is expected of them so they won't be overawed," Daley said.
"They aren't rookies as such. While they're making their Origin debuts they have been involved in high-pressure games which is advantageous for us because they have been exposed to it before."
Together, they have combined for on average of 219.1 metres and 53.8 tackles per game for the Bulldogs, and together they are excited to represent the sky blue jumper side by side after playing for Australia in last year's Four Nations tournament.
"It's a great honour and privilege and I can't wait to throw the sky blue jersey on and get out there and get into it," Jackson said.
"It will be [special] to debut alongside [Klemmer], he's really deserved his spot there and he's been playing some really great footy and I think he'll bring a lot of impact from the bench.
"I guess with all of the games I've played before, you take the experience and the confidence from them and hopefully I can take some of that and apply it [in Origin]."
Klemmer called it a "dream" come true when asked of his excitement surrounding his debut.
"It's every kid's dream to run out for New South Wales and play against Queensland. To be in the Origin arena now is very exciting," Klemmer said.
"It's a big occasion. Having played for Kangaroos as well proved I can perform at this level."
This article first appeared on NRL.com