Prolific Panthers dominate NSW Origin selection

Boom Penrith Panthers five-eighth Jarome Luai has won the NSW Blues‘ hottest selection battle, getting the nod to partner teammate Nathan Cleary in the halves on debut in the State of Origin opener.

And in two more giant shows of faith in the undefeated Panthers, rugged winger Brian To’o will make his NSW debut after being picked on a wing, while back-rower Liam Martin will debut in a bench role. Penrith hooker Api Koroisau has also been named 18th man.

A total of six Panthers have been named in coach Brad Fittler’s squad of 19: Cleary, Luai, To’o, Martin, lock Isaah Yeo and Koroisau.

In an indication of just how strong Penrith debutants Luai and To’o have been this season, Luai is topping the NRL in try assists with 14, while To’o is leading both metres gained (2946) and tackle busts (73).

And fellow Panthers debutant Martin has also been influential in Penrith’s unbeaten start to the season.

NSW Blues team for State of Origin opener:

1. James Tedesco 2. Brian To’o 3. Latrell Mitchell 4. Tom Trbojevic 5. Josh Addo-Carr 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Payne Haas 11. Cameron Murray 12. Tariq Sims 13. Isaah Yeo 14. Jack Wighton 15. Junior Paulo 16. Payne Haas 17. Liam Martin 18th man. Api Koroisau 19. Campbell Graham

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