NSW props David Klemmer (left) and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
NSW props David Klemmer (left) and Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

New Blues pack worries Belcher

MAROONS legend Gary Belcher has turned the heat up on Queensland's forward pack after questioning whether they had the "grunt" to match NSW's in-form engine room.

The Maroons will confront a record 11 debutants at the MCG tonight after Blues coach Brad Fittler overhauled NSW in attempt to snap Queensland's three-year winning streak.

Fittler has assembled a team of "Baby Blues" that are in sensational NRL form and out-performing Queensland throughout the crucial forward battle.

Statistics show NSW's forwards are amassing a combined 1020m a game in the NRL compared with Queensland's 843m.

While he failed to recall veteran prop Matt Scott, Maroons coach Kevin Walters has shown faith in some underperforming forwards in the hope they fire tonight.

But 16-Origin Maroons legend Belcher said he feared Queensland could be blown away by the Blues' big men.

"I am really worried about the Queensland team," Belcher said.

"We have lost a fair bit of grunt around our forward pack. That worries me.

"They will fire up, but have we got the power in the middle? Have we got the same grunt that the other mob has got? Have we got the same go-forward?

"Can we get our halves on the front foot? I hope so."

Fittler has picked a pack of players registering big numbers this season.

Prop David Klemmer is averaging 170m per game for the Bulldogs, and while fellow front rower Reagan Campbell-Gillard (92m) isn't as destructive, he has been selected for his defensive aggression.

Jai Arrow is Queensland’s best-performed forward in the NRL this season.
Jai Arrow is Queensland’s best-performed forward in the NRL this season.

Bench forwards Paul Vaughan (126m), Jake Trbojevic (118m) and Angus Crichton (120m) are all hard workers.

In contrast, Maroons starting props Dylan Napa (81m) and Jarrod Wallace (109m) have not had anywhere near the impact they had at the same time last season.

Test lock Josh McGuire (123m) hasn't played in six weeks due to an ankle injury and backrowers Felise Kaufusi (67m) and Gavin Cooper (68m) have struggled for form at their clubs.

Ironically, Titans lock Jai Arrow (142m) is Queensland's best-performing forward, but he may see limited time from the bench on debut.

Bench prop Josh Papalii (120m), in his 10th Origin, will be Queensland's most experienced forward, but found himself in reserve grade earlier this season.

Papalii admitted the in-form Blues pack possessed a huge threat to Queensland in the forwards battle.

"We've got a young pack as well but they have a lot of aggressive players there," he said.

"Their forward pack is playing real well in club footy and they have good leaders there with Campbell-Gillard and Klemmer.

"When it comes to Origin, you've got to bring the players that bring that aggressive footy and Klemmer is one of them. He was born for Origin.

"As a forward pack we have been very dominant for the last couple of years. With the experienced forwards Matty Scott and (Nate) Myles out of the squad it is only the young fellas left.

"It is the start of a new era in this forward pack. It is a fairly young one and hopefully we can do the job."