Calf problem can't keep Pearson out of Origin opener

Rachael Pearson has shaken off a calf injury and will line up as NSW halfback in the first match of the historic three-game State of Origin series.

Coach Kylie Hilder last week selected Pearson for Thursday night's clash at Suncorp Stadium, despite the Parramatta playmaker managing a minor calf issue this month.

The 30-year-old completed the week's preparation unencumbered, and Hilder confirmed on Wednesday she would line up alongside Sydney Roosters star Corban Baxter to form a new-look halves combination for Origin I.

"There is no issue whatsoever with Rachael's calf," the coach said.

"She's ready to go. If there was an issue, we wouldn't have picked her to be part of this team. She's fully fit, completed every session and there hasn't been an issue at all."

Pearson ousted incumbent young gun Jesse Southwell from the halfback spot after both were among the 36 players to join NSW for a seven-week training camp ahead of the Origin series.

Neither Pearson nor Baxter lined up in the Blues' game-two victory in Townsville last year, with the former dropped on form and the latter out of the game to look after her newborn.

Despite the extensive training camp, neither woman has played a competitive match in months, given NSWRL has shifted its women's premiership to run in line with the NRLW season this year.

Thursday's match will also mark the pair's first hit-out together at any level, but Hilder did not foresee teething problems for the halves, who have six games of Origin experience between them.

Rachael Pearson.
Rachael Pearson has shaken off a calf injury and will line up as NSW halfback in Origin 1.

"I'm really confident," Hilder said.

"They complement each other really well.

"Rachael controls the game really well and has a great kicking game, and then we've got Corban who's that running five-eighth.

"They've been looking great together, working really well together, and I'm excited to see them out on the field tomorrow night."

In typical Queensland fashion, coach Tahnee Norris has adopted a "pick-and-stick" approach to selection for the series opener.

The Queensland spine is the same that won last year's two-match series on points aggregate, with 14 of the 17 players who lost in Townsville backed in for Thursday night.

Makenzie Weale is the lone debutant, coming in for the injured Keilee Joseph.

"The stability that we've got in our playing group, I think it's a true testament to what we did last year, to keep that combination together," Norris said.

"The girls gel really well and I think we just owed the loyalty to what they did from the past two years."

She rejected suggestions that the new NSW halves combination was a point of vulnerability.

"They've played Origin before, so I think we're always wary about the combinations that they'll put out there. They're quality players," Norris said.

License this article

What is AAPNews?

For the first time, Australian Associated Press is delivering news straight to the consumer.

No ads. No spin. News straight-up.

Not only do you get to enjoy high-quality news delivered straight to your desktop or device, you do so in the knowledge you are supporting media diversity in Australia.

AAP Is Australia’s only independent newswire service, free from political and commercial influence, producing fact-based public interest journalism across a range of topics including politics, courts, sport, finance and entertainment.

What is AAPNews?
The Morning Wire

Wake up to AAPNews’ morning news bulletin delivered straight to your inbox or mobile device, bringing you up to speed with all that has happened overnight at home and abroad, as well as setting you up what the day has in store.

AAPNews Morning Wire
AAPNews Breaking News
Breaking News

Be the first to know when major breaking news happens.

Notifications will be sent to your device whenever a big story breaks, ensuring you are never in the dark when the talking points happen.

Focused Content

Enjoy the best of AAP’s specialised Topics in Focus. AAP has reporters dedicated to bringing you hard news and feature content across a range of specialised topics including Environment, Agriculture, Future Economies, Arts and Refugee Issues.

AAPNews Focussed Content
Subscription Plans

Choose the plan that best fits your needs. AAPNews offers two basic subscriptions, all billed monthly.

Once you sign up, you will have seven days to test out the service before being billed.

AAPNews Full Access Plan
Full Access
  • Enjoy all that AAPNews has to offer
  • Access to breaking news notifications and bulletins
  • Includes access to all AAPNews’ specialised topics
Join Now
AAPNews Student Access Plan
Student Access
  • Gain access via a verified student email account
  • Enjoy all the benefits of the ‘Full Access’ plan at a reduced rate
  • Subscription renews each month
Join Now
AAPNews Annual Access Plan
Annual Access
  • All the benefits of the 'Full Access' subscription at a discounted rate
  • Subscription automatically renews after 12 months
Join Now

AAPNews also offers enterprise deals for businesses so you can provide an AAPNews account for your team, organisation or customers. Click here to contact AAP to sign-up your business today.

Download the app
Download AAPNews on the App StoreDownload AAPNews on the Google Play Store