NRL Qualifying Final - Storm v Sea Eagles
SUNSHINE COAST, AUSTRALIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Haumole Olakau'atu of the Sea Eagles is tackled during the NRL Qualifying Final between the Melbourne Storm and the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles at Sunshine Coast Stadium on September 10, 2021, in Sunshine Coast, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

State of Origin is on the way, with the New South Wales Blues out to hold the crown they so emphatically claimed last year.

This of course means it is time to speculate about the make-up of the teams for Game 1.

Latrell Mitchell's injury and unavailability mean Brad Fittler will be forced into making one large change to last year's victorious side. Will he go back to Clint Gutherson/Jack Wighton or blood a fresh talent?

Does Ryan Papenhuyzen finally make his Origin debut, or does someone else trump him for the utility spot?

All these questions will be answered over the coming weeks, however below are five players I genuinely consider 'Origin bolters'.

That is, players who probably weren't going to be considered in the pre-season but now could fly into selection contention.


5. Matt Burton

With Latrell Mitchell almost zero chance to take his spot in the series opener, the Blues are looking for a new option at centre.

It can't be Clint Gutherson and it can't be Jack Wighton. It was tried, tested and has failed in the past. The Blues need to run with a specialist centre.

So of course I'm going to suggest running out a five-eighth as a centre.

That said, Burton is the reigning Dally M centre of the year. He was nothing short of incredible during his time out wide for the Panthers.

Given the fact the Blues side will include both Penrith halves as well as the likely inclusion of Brian To'o, Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin, it's fair to say Burton would fit right in.

Prior to the injury to Mitchell, Burton was probably low down the pecking order given his early season form (or struggle to find it) but a move back to the centres makes the world of sense.

His utility value could see him picked in the 14 jersey off the bench. He covers a range of positions if anything goes wrong.

For mine, though he's within the top few options at centre.