NSW skipper Trent Barrett expects deposed captain Kurt Gidley to act no differently around the Blues camp ahead of next week’s State of Origin clash against Queensland.
Barrett, who admitted the game is almost certain to be his last Origin clash, with the 32-year-old set to retire at the end of the season, was named captain after Gidley was included on the interchange bench.
The Cronulla playmaker said leading the team out at ANZ Stadium will be the highlight of his career, and said there was no hard feelings from Gidley, who has skippered the side in the last five games.
“My role in the team won’t change from what it was previously. You need more than one leader in the team,” Barrett said.
“I wouldn’t expect Kurt to go into his shell. He is a terrific leader and a terrific bloke and we need to help each other.
“We are good mates and similar personalities it will all be fine. But we need more than one leader and more than just me and Kurt.”
The Blues have made eight changes to the side that lost 34-6 in Brisbane earlier this month, with four players set to make their debuts.
Barrett believes the enthusiasm that will be generated by Kade Snowden, Tim Mannah, Michael Gordon and Jason King, who will experience camp for the first time, can energise the rest of the team.
“If these young guys can go out there and do well they can go some way to being a part of the team for some time. I am sure their enthusiasm will rub off on everyone else,” he said.
“It is important that we help them. It is a different to club footy and a different pressure. It is daunting, 10 days is a long time to prepare for a game and you can get lost a little bit. “
“It is important they enjoy it and up to us senior guys to help them through. I think we have the team to trouble them and there may be a few points in this game.”
Petero Civoniceva returns from injury in Queensland’s only team change for the match.
Civoniceva missed game two with a broken hand suffered in game one, but he comes back at prop in place of Ben Hannant who drops out of the squad.
Queensland will be seeking a series cleansweep in the match to cap their fifth straight Origin series triumph.
South Sydney second rower BEN LOWE has been called into camp as 18th man.
Meanwhile, Queensland hooker Cameron Smith has slammed NSW selectors’ chop and change policy, saying they haven’t learned from their past mistakes.
“Obviously there were going to be some changes made but I didn’t think there were going to be so many,” Smith told Sky Sports Radio.
“They’ve got a brand-new front row. Although the guys playing in the back-row in this team have got some experience, it’s like they don’t learn their lesson. “
“They just keep chopping and changing and trying to find the guys that can win one match and then hopefully they can keep fit or not get suspended and be available for the next match.”
Smith said it will be hard for coach Craig Bellamy to settle the team with only a week to prepare for game three.
“In a week it’s hard to bring a team together, especially when you’ve got guys making their debut,” he said.
He also criticised selectors for leaving out St George Illawarra’s in-form five-eighth Jamie Soward.
“If they were ever going to give him a shot it should have been this game,” he said.
“I heard Laurie Daley say last night that with such a young half like Mitchell Pearce, they wanted a more experienced five eighth like Trent Barrett beside him. “
“But is Trent Barrett going to be around next year? Probably not. “
“Why not chuck a young bloke in there and see how he goes? They’ve got nothing to lose, have they? “
“If he goes no good then at least they know next year when they’re moving forward to try to find a young guy for the future.”
Smith promised that there would not be a repeat of last year’s controversial lead-up to Origin III, when a group of Queensland players were alleged to have mixed energy drinks with prescription drugs.
“The guys that were involved last year are certainly very sorry about what they did last year and I can assure you guys that it won’t be happening this time and we’ll be well-prepared for game three,” he said.