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Let the Origin battle begin

Titans fullback Preston Campbell arrived at the Coffs Harbour Airport with the rest of the City Origin v Country Origin players
Titans fullback Preston Campbell arrived at the Coffs Harbour Airport with the rest of the City Origin v Country Origin players

By MICHELLE DAY

THE last time Preston Campbell was at BCU Stadium he was signing autographs and supporting his Titans team-mates in their trial match against Melbourne Storm on February 16.

This Thursday night he will be on the interchange bench for the Country Origin team, eagerly awaiting a chance to run onto the field.

"The teams are a lot stronger this year, it is going to be a good showing," he said at the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport yesterday afternoon.

"I enjoy these kind of matches - you get to play alongside blokes from other teams that you enjoy watching at the weekend."

It's not just a game though, with players vying for positions in State of Origin teams for the first match of the series on May 23.

"I think (the game is relevant) this year more so than the past couple of years, with so many positions still to be filled -- particularly the halfback and five-eighth positions," Campbell said.

"Another 11 or so players need to be picked so hopefully I will stand out."

Campbell certainly has a slight advantage over players who were on-field for the match between the Cronulla Sharks and Newcastle Knights last night.

"They will only have two days' rest in between matches, but they are professional footballers and these days most clubs have good recovery. It won't be as good as a week's rest but things like swims, stretches, massages and ice baths help," he said.

"It's a pretty heavy workload but they are so professional they should be able to handle it, bar any injuries."

As of yesterday afternoon, late changes to the City side included Reni Maitua being replaced by Reece Williams; Paul Gallen moving to lock and Anthony Watmough to the second row; and Williams starting from the bench with Mark Minichiello to travel as the 18th man.

Both sides will attend autograph signing and training sessions in Coffs Harbour ahead of the Thursday night match.



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