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Penrith set for another record in NSW side

At least six Penrith stars are set to be named when NSW rolls out their strongest club combination in State of Origin for over a decade on Sunday night.

Blues coach Brad Fittler will unveil his squad for Game I after round 12, with likely debutant Stephen Crichton set to headline a heavy Panthers contingent.

Crichton remains the favourite to be named at centre alongside uncapped Brisbane star Kotoni Staggs, filling in for the injured Latrell Mitchell and Tom Trbojevic.

Penrith five-eighth Jarome Luai breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday morning when he avoided a ban for a high-shot on Scott Drinkwater, instead able to take a $1,000 fine.

He is therefore able to line up with Nathan Cleary in the halves, while Dally M Medal leader Isaah Yeo is a certain pick at lock.

Brian To'o is also a guarantee pick on the wing, while incumbent back-rower Liam Martin is expected to keep his spot.

Apisai Koroisau is also an outside chance to be named at hooker or off the bench, but is more likely to feature as 18th man or in the extended squad with South Sydney's Damien Cook the first-choice No.9.

Regardless, it will make for the most players from one club to be named in a NSW team together since St George Illawarra had seven players in Game I of 2011.

"It obviously helps with combinations and stuff," halfback Cleary said.

"Just to be able to share those experiences with people you have grown up with is pretty amazing.

"It's a credit to the club but us as a group that we are able to help each other out as individuals.

"The team is the main priority and I think that's why those combinations help."

Cleary and Luai remain unbeaten together at Origin level, winning the first two games last series before both missed the dead-rubber loss to Queensland in Game III through injury.

At all senior levels starting together, their record also stands at 48-4.

Their combination with Yeo is equally important, with the No.13 again brilliant in Friday night's win over North Queensland as he continues to play an underrated role of playing at the line in attack.

"Origin is a pretty different game (so it's hard to play the exact same football)," Cleary said.

"It's probably a bit more based around flow footy.

"But I think me and Yeoy have a pretty good combination and hopefully we can make that work in Origin."

Fittler has calls to make in the back row beside Yeo.

Cameron Murray has fought hard to prove his fitness and keep his place, while Angus Crichton is below his best at the Roosters but would expect to be picked.

Tariq Sims has also battled as part of an under-performing team at St George Illawarra, but was a star for the Blues last year.

Daniel Saifiti and Jake Trbojevic could also pay the price for Manly and Newcastle's struggles, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard one option for a front-row return off the bench.

Fittler must also weigh up what role he wants his utility to play, be it as an extra forward in Ryan Matterson, dummy-half in Koroisau or back in Nicho Hynes or Jack Wighton.


James Tedesco, Brian To'o, Stephen Crichton, Kotoni Staggs, Josh Addo-Carr, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Junior Paulo, Damien Cook, Payne Haas, Angus Crichton, Tariq Sims, Isaah Yeo. Bench: Nicho Hynes, Cameron Murray, Liam Martin, Reagan Campbell-Gillard.

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