NRL analysts Ben Ikin and James Hooper have announced their sides for the Maroons and Blues.

After winning the series 2-1 in 2020 and featuring 14 debutants, Ikin believes that the Maroons will field zero debutants when the two sides meet on June 9th at the MCG, per Fox Sports.

Ikin was quick to boast about the strength and depth of the Maroons side on NRL 360, especially the quality of the forward pack including Christian Welch, David Fifita and Josh Papalii, and the interchange highlighted by experienced Origin halfback Ben Hunt.

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“It is a forward pack to die for and an interchange bench that could represent its country.”

Exciting hooker Harry Grant would move into the starting lineup this year after playing a pivotal role on debut in 2020, scoring the match-winning try in the decider.

Embed from Getty ImagesDespite boasting about the quality of the Maroons proposed lineup, Ikin believes that they will still be the underdogs up against a talented Blues side.

Fox Sports reporter James Hooper unveiled his proposed Blues side, which includes four fullbacks and a number of potential debutants, including five-eighth Jarome Luai and second-rower Liam Martin.

The fullbacks include James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic and Ryan Papenhuyzen.

Hooper selected Papenhuyzen on the bench, who would debut if chosen. Papenhuyzen would be stiff not to be in the starting lineup however, after a blistering start to the season with the Melbourne Storm, scoring eight tries in the first five games.

Hooper said on Fox Sports that up to five Penrith Panthers players may be selected in the squad, given their 9-0 start to the season. 

“Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo are guaranteed selections while the likes of Jarome Luai, Liam Martin and Brian To’o are also stating strong cases,” he said.

Panthers winger, Brian To’o would be unlucky to be left out after a strong start to the season with five tries, but finds competition for a debut tough given the likes of Josh Addo-Carr and Trbojevic holding the wings in Hooper’s side.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – APRIL 22: Brian To’o of the Panthers is tackled during the round seven NRL match between the Penrith Panthers and the Newcastle Knights at BlueBet Stadium, on April 22, 2021 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Jason McCawley/Getty Images)

Ben Ikin’s Maroons side for Origin I:

1. Kalyn Ponga
2. Valentine Holmes
3.Dane Gagai
4. Kurt Capewell
5. Xavier Coates
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry Evans
8. Josh Papalii
9. Harry Grant
10. Christian Welch
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. David Fifita
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui

Interchange:

14. Ben Hunt
15. Jai Arrow
16. Jaydn Su’A
17. Moeaki Fotuaika

James Hooper’s Blues side for Origin I

  1. James Tedesco
  2. Josh Addo-Carr
  3. Latrell Mitchell
  4. Jack Wighton
  5. Tom Trbojevic
  6. Jarome Luai
  7. Nathan Cleary
  8. Payne Haas
  9. Damien Cook
  10. Junior Paulo
  11. Angus Crichton
  12. Liam Martin
  13. Isaah Yeo

Interchange:

14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Daniel Saifiti
16. Jake Trbojevic
17. Tyson Frizell