Lancashire and, after that, Great Britain are set to rely on an important contribution from veteran players, with the naming of Gary Connolly and Mike Forshaw in the line-up to face Yorkshire next week.
Connolly, 32, was thought to be lost to the game when he agreed to play for Orrell last year, but Leeds gave him the chance to stay in Super League and his form this season has been as good as ever.
"He's bounced back as only Gary Connolly can. He's a special character," said David Waite, the Great Britain coach, who helped to select both sides for what is essentially a Test trial. Bradford's Forshaw came out of representative retirement to play New Zealand last autumn and his selection for his first Origin Match at the age of 33 shows that he will be under consideration again for the series against Australia this November.
Waite added: "On form, both players deserve to be in this side and I know of no reason why they wouldn't be available against Australia."
Another who might have thought that his representative days had passed is the 29-year-old Steve Prescott, but his form for Hull has won him a place in Paul Cullen's Lancashire side.
Lancashire have three other newcomers at this level in St Helens's Sean Long, the Irish-born Brian Carney and his Wigan team-mate, prop Danny Sculthorpe, who will play alongside his elder brother, Paul, for the first time since their schooldays.
Yorkshire's Graham Steadman has chosen four new county players in Leeds's Ryan Bailey, Wakefield's Gareth Ellis and the Castleford pair, Ryan Hudson and Andy Lynch.
The major surprise is the omission of the Hull prop Paul King. "It was a very tight decision," Waite explained. "He has played okay this year, with some very strong games, but others, like Bailey and Lynch, have just gone past him."
The Wigan winger, Brett Dallas, has turned down a contract for the rest of this season and next at Cronulla, saying that he wants to get fit and win a Grand Final in this country.Reuse content