NEW PAIRING: Mitchell Pearce and Trent Hodkinson will be calling the shots for New South Wales next Wednesday night.
NEW PAIRING: Mitchell Pearce and Trent Hodkinson will be calling the shots for New South Wales next Wednesday night. Matthew Deans

NSW selections backed by a couple of Maroons

RUGBY LEAGUE: Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce has found an unlikely supporter - a player from behind enemy lines endorsing his selection.

Pearce has played 12 State of Origin matches for New South Wales, for a win-loss ratio of just 3-9 without a series win.

However, Blues coach Laurie Daley has recalled him for Origin I in Sydney next Wednesday night, breaking the Bulldog halves combination of Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds, who helped NSW end Queensland's eight-series winning streak last year.

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Reynolds' form has dipped this season and Pearce - who has shown strong club form in 2015 - will play at five-eighth.

Hodkinson holds on to his No.7 jersey.

Maroons 18th man and Roosters club teammate Dylan Napa is backing Pearce to do well, despite many Queenslanders chuckling at the selection due to his poor record at Origin level.

"I'm so happy he got picked," Napa told APN.

"He had such a big finish to last year and he's had an awesome start to this year."

However, if Napa were to get the call-up for the series' opener, he said he would not hold back on trying to unsettle the Blues playmaker.

"No way. He's my friend off the field, but no one's friends on the field if you're wearing a different jumper," he said.

Highly rated Bulldogs 24-year-old Josh Jackson's selection as a starting lock was also met with approval from Maroons opposite Corey Parker.

"He's a real good kid. He was part of the Four Nations Australia team last year and I had a bit to do with him on that tour," Parker said of the Blues debutant.

"I think he's a great kid and he'll do a good job for them."


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