Prop Aaron Woods says Robbie Farah’s experience makes him a logical choice to lead NSW into the State of Origin series in place of injured skipper Paul Gallen.
The Blues will head to Coffs Harbour after the team is named on Tuesday, beginning preparations to defend the Origin shield after breaking an historic eight-year drought last season.
But they’ll have to start the series without talismanic skipper in Gallen, who has been ruled out of game one in Sydney with a hip injury.
“It’s a massive loss,” Woods told AAP.
“He (Gallen) is a bloke who’s played so many games, represented Australia and is the NSW captain.”
But Woods, who has played five games for NSW since making his debut in 2013, said the state had a ready-made replacement in his Wests Tigers skipper Farah.
Hooker Farah also led the Blues in Game III of the 2013 series, when Gallen was ruled out with a foot injury.
“He does a lot of the calls anyway coming out of dummy half. The boys will be used to it,” Woods said.
“Gallen does go off every now and again so he does call the shots. He’s part of the spine as well.
“It just seems like the logical choice.”
Kangaroos front-rower James Tamou is expected to partner Woods in the starting line-up, which should also feature last year’s second-row pairing of Ryan Hoffman and Beau Scott.
Trent Merrin is slated to wear the No.13.
Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita is in line for a Blues return after missing last year’s entire campaign, while Bulldogs prop David Klemmer could jag a NSW debut.
Klemmer’s clubmate Josh Jackson, Roosters hole-runner Boyd Cordner and Blues veteran Luke Lewis are the other contenders for the remaining spots on the bench.
Woods said it was an opportunity for himself and the rest of the forwards to step up in the absence of Gallen and suspended veteran Greg Bird.
“It’s a big loss but it’s one of those things you can’t really focus on because if you buy into that because you’re going to feel like you’re going into the game underdone,” he said.
“There are a lot of people questioning the NSW squad, but the young blokes are ready to go.
“People are saying we’re light on, but look at the likes of Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson, big Dave Klemmer, and Ryan James.
” We’re pretty lucky in the forwards department.
“I’ve only really played one Origin series, so I definitely want to step up and get the boys going forward.
“Obviously Gal won’t be there, but big James Tamou will and it’s important the two front-rowers lay the platform early.”