Gower named NSW halfback

Penrith Panthers captain Craig Gower has beaten out strong competition from Brett Kimmorley and Matt Orford to be named New South Wales halfback for the first State of Origin match at Stadium Australia next Wednesday.

It was an obvious selection amongst a host of shock decisions made by selectors this morning.

Gower?s team mate Joel Clinton, who played well for Australia against New Zealand last month, was overlooked for selection, as was Michael Devere who was tipped to be selected for his goal kicking ability.

Dragons flyer Ben Hornby was the shock choice at fullback for the game, beating out a range of contenders from other clubs.

The other shock decision was to not include Melbourne five-eighth Scott Hill in the side, with selectors deciding Shaun Timmins would be better in the role.

Danny Buderus has been named captain of the side.

The full team is: Ben Hornby, Anthony Minichello, Mark Gasnier, Matthew Gidley, Luke Lewis, Shaun Timmins, Craig Gower, Ryan O'Hara, Danny Buderus (c), Mark O'Meley, Andrew Ryan, Nathan Hindmarsh, Craig Fitzgibbon. Interchange: Willie Mason, Brent Kite, Craig Wing, Trent Waterhouse.

Newcastle halfback Kurt Gidley has been named the 18th man.