The NSW Blues have been named for the first game of the 2017 #Origin series.
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The courageous Knights and Titans do battle as they attempt to climb up from the bottom rungs of the ladder
The Titans were finally rewarded for their bravery when they upset Cronulla 16-12 last weekend. Gold Coast have been renowned this season for their commitment despite a series of injury setbacks, however, they came into last week's clash having only won one game - things were beginning to get desperate. Deservedly, they came out on top with a Leivaha Pulu double powering them to a victory which coach Neil Henry will hope will put his side in good stead to make a mid-season resurgence. Key to their victory last week was returning stars Jarryd Hayne, Kevin Proctor and Konrad Hurrell, with Hayne in particular starring in his long-awaited comeback. The fullback's attitude has been the subject of much criticism, however, his man-of-the-match effort last weekend proved the star power he can provide the Gold Coast side with. The Titans, however, are still not without injury concerns, with Dale Copley, Chris Grevsmuhl and Karl Lawton all missing from the team that knocked over Cronulla. Dan Sarginson, Paterika Vaivai and Kane Elgey take their spots.
Meanwhile, the Knights have not been so lucky, again falling short last week to the Cowboys. The Newcastle side made a great start to the game, leading the 2015 Premiers 12-6 early, only to eventually stumble 24 points to 12. Their second half effort, while gallant, was lacking in execution and the Knights face an ever harder proposition this week against the rejuvenated Titans. In order to spark his side, coach Nathan Brown has named yet another halves pairing, with Trent Hodkinson still yet to be reinstated into first grade. As a result, youngsters Jaelen Feeney and Brock Lamb line up for the first time this season with Sione Mata'utia reverting back to the second row.
Newcastle's only win of the year was against the Titans, to the tune of 34-26 in Round 2 in Newcastle.
Who to watch: For the home side, look out for the performance of underrated Blues hopeful Nathan Peats. Peats has been getting through all the hard work for his side, evident is last week's tackle count of 57 against the Sharks. However, his running game could pose a serious risk if Newcastle's middle men get tired.
A surprisingly dangerous attacking proposition for the Knights last week was fullback Brendan Elliot. Elliot ran for 147 metres whilst also scoring a length-of-the-field try early. Elliot was just as strong against the Titans in Round 2, scoring a try, setting up one and making a line break. For a Knights side with the worst attack in the competition, his attacking capabilities could prove crucial if his side prevails.
6. Tyrone Roberts 2. Anthony Don 1. Jarryd Hayne 4. Konrad Hurrell 3. Dan Sarginson 14. Kane Elgey 7. Ashley Taylor 8. Jarrod Wallace 9. Nathan Peats 10. Ryan James 11. Chris McQueen 12. Kevin Proctor 13. Ryan Simpkins 15. Joe Greenwood 16. Paterika Vaivai 17. Leivaha Pulu 18. Morgan Boyle
1. Brendan Elliott 2. Ken Sio 3. Dane Gagai 4. Peter Mata'utia 5. Nathan Ross 6. Brock Lamb 7. Jaelen Feeney 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Danny Levi 10. Josh Starling 11. Sione Mata'utia 12. Sam Stone 20. Josh King 13. Luke Yates 15. Joe Wardle 16. Jack Stockwell 17. Jacob Saifiti