NSW skipper Robbie Farah admits leading his young, new-look side into next week’s State of Origin opener will be among his greatest challenges as a captain.
With Paul Gallen out injured, Farah was named as the Blues skipper on Tuesday for game one at ANZ Stadium on May 27, leading a team with six changes from the side that broke an eight-year drought to claim the shield last year.
Also missing veterans Greg Bird (suspended) and Luke Lewis (omitted), Farah will be leading a side the majority of whom have played five or less Origin games and features two debutants in Bulldogs duo Josh Jackson and Davis Klemmer.
Farah, who skippered the NSW side in game one in 2010 and has led the West Tigers since 2009, says this current role will be a huge test.
He says he will call on the experience of others in the squad and will seek advice from Gallen, who is due to visit the side in camp in Coffs Harbour this week as they prepare for their Origin defence.
“There are guys missing but I’ve still got great leadership around me,” he said.
“Guys like Ryan Hoffman, Beau Scott and Josh Morris.
“It is a great challenge but one I’m very excited about and one I’m sure I’ll do well in.”
Farah admits it’s difficult to replace players like Gallen, Bird and Lewis but backed coach Laurie Daly’s selection saying the squad would take NSW into the future.
“It’s always hard to replace players of that ilk especially when they’ve been such a big part of this group for a long time and have a lot of experience,” he said.
“But that opens a door for other guys to come in. Guys like Josh Jackson and Dave Klemmer, Boyd Cordner who have been playing great footy for a long time, they’ve just been waiting for an opportunity.
“So it’s a bit of a changing of the guard but it’s exciting for this state to see the guys who are going to take us into the future.”
Mitchell Pearce was also among the changes in the squad, the halfback given a shot at redemption having been dropped last year.
Farah said he would bring a lot to the side.
“He’s a quality player. Obviously last year a few things happened where he missed out,” he said.
“But since then I think he’s grown as a player and a person. He’s really got his footy in order and off field he’s going great and deserves his chance.”