With less than two months until the first Origin game, attention has incredibly turned to speculation over just who will make the side.
Some of the players being named in many fan sides are surprising, to say the least, while form players continue to be overlooked in favour of players who were at their peak years ago.
Will the Blues pick the relegated Robbie Farah? Will Aaron Woods be named captain or will Boyd Cordner get the job? Will Mitch Pearce return to the Blues fold despite a horrible record at this level?
Below are the sides that I believe will be named, the side I would personally name, and the side that would be picked if form were the ultimate decider. For the purpose of this, I haven’t taken too much notice of left/right side centres/wingers etc, and only players with genuine Origin hopes are named in the form side.
The first player named is the one I believe will be selected, the second the player I’d pick, the third the player who should be picked on form.
Everyone seems to have an opinion on the side, let’s see yours!
There is supposed discussion about whether to go with Tedesco or Moylan, but surely there can be no discussion here. James Tedesco is head and shoulders above all other contenders for the role and any other choice would become an absolute injustice. Despite an indifferent start to the season for his club side, Tedesco has still looked like the megastar he is. Tommy Turbo has been the form fullback eligible for the Blues in the opening rounds and has a huge rep future ahead of him.
Ferguson has a mortgage on a wing spot following his efforts for the Kangaroos in last year’s four-nations tournament. Tommy Turbo has more than enough experience in the outside backs to justify a wing position. For mine, he simply has to be in the side somewhere. Daniel Tupou has been in brilliant form for the Roosters and would shade the others if that were the only aspect.
Much like Ferguson, Dugan will be picked based on incredible efforts at rep level despite not being his club position. To beat Queensland, we are going to have to score big points, and there is no more prolific point scorer than the in form Jarrod Croker. He started the season late due to injury but has shown more than enough to justify an Origin jumper than is well over due. The obvious choice for the kicker.
Jennings always plays well above his club form while wearing the sky blue and no one could begrudge him a spot in the side as a result. I would pick the Raiders centres based on the fact they have been the best two in their position for 12 months now. Dylan Walker has lit the competition up across the opening six rounds and is arguably the form centre of the competition. If he is picked in his correct position, he is Origin worthy.
Will be picked: Brett Morris
Who I would pick: Brett Morris
Who should be picked on form: Akuila Uate
Josh Mansour is the obvious choice, but won’t be ready come selection for game one. Brett Morris is one of the best wingers of the modern generation and should be picked based on his proud record at rep level, combined with the fact that there simply aren’t many players busting down the door to displace him. Akuila Uate has enjoyed a great start to the season and is in the top few, form-wise. Incredible but true.
There is absolutely no decision to make here, the Sharks number six is the man to fill the position for the Blues. He will miss plenty of tackles, but he will create more opportunities than almost any other half in the competition. The ultimate competitor, there can be no discussion here. Maloney plays, whether that be at five-eighth of half if the only question. Luke Keary has shaded even the brilliant Sharks pivot thus far and if he were willing to be selected, wouldn’t look out of position.
Despite his poor record at this level, Laurie Daley seems committed to picking the Roosters number seven. He has been brilliant at club level over the years but has never been able to lift to the next level. Time to move on. Adam Reynolds has the best kicking game of those players eligible and should be picked as such. Cody Walker is the form half of the competition at the moment and although his selection would shock the world, it shouldn’t. The number on his back wouldn’t matter.
Will be picked: Aaron Woods
Who I would pick: Paul Vaughan
Who should be picked on form: Paul Vaughan
Aaron Woods will be selected, and likely named as captain. He is a Laurie Daley favourite and hasn’t let anyone down in seasons past. Paul Vaughan is head and shoulders above all others when it comes to form. He should be the first player selected, other than Tedesco or perhaps Maloney. If he isn’t in the side, NSW isn’t serious.
Will be picked: Robbie Farah
Who I would pick: Damien Cook
Who should be picked on form: Cameron McInnes
Does anyone actually believe Daley won’t go with Farah? Don’t get me wrong, Farah has done himself proud over the years for the Blues and would put in 110% effort, but I believe it is time to move on. I would go with Damien Cook as he has the attacking abilities to burst the game open at any time. For the Blues to win, they need as many avenues of attack as possible. If picked purely on form, Cameron McInnes should already have been fitted for his blue jersey.
Shannon Boyd is an absolute colossus and had a brilliant Four Nations tournament. He will bend the Queensland line and make plenty of metres. I just don’t believe he can play the minutes required just yet. Andrew Fifita is the most damaging prop in the game when he’s on, just ask the thirty Storm defenders he carried over the line in last year’s decider. He will be in the side, but I’d start him. He and Vaughan can set the tone.
Will be picked: Boyd Cordner
Who I would pick: Boyd Cordner
Who should be picked on form: Boyd Cordner
Absolute no brainer. Cordner is there, and for mine, he is named the captain. The ultimate professional on and off the field, there is no better player, or man, to take over from Paul Gallen. Only injury can stop the in-form Cordner from returning to the side after injury hurt his role last season. Easy.
Will be picked: Tyson Frizell
Who I would pick: Wade Graham
Who should be picked on form: Wade Graham
Frizell had a dream start to his NSW rep career and will be named this season, injury aside.
David Klemmer will likely be named at lock, giving the side three big forwards in the centre. His size and aggression are what Origin is all about. I would pick Frizell in the position, although I expect him to be named out wide. The roles are somewhat linked so it wouldn’t overly matter, but I just think Graham is a little more dangerous when running wide, and Frizell can make more metres tucking the footy under his arm early. Jack de Belin is in career best form and should be in serious consideration. On form, he’s already there.
Will be picked: Andrew Fifita, Jake Trbojevic, Wade Graham, Jack Bird
Who I would pick: Ryan James, Tyrone Peachey, Jake Trbojevic, Jack Bird
Who should be picked on form: Tyrone Peachey, Jake Trbojevic, Tyson Frizell, Dale Finucane
Fifita, Turbo, Jackson and Bird are all rep players to the core. No worries there and the bench would offer plenty of impact. I’d start Fifita, but I can understand holding him back. Turbo can play at lock or front row and is a superstar in the making. Much like Fifita, I’d start Graham too, but he’s more likely to be named on the bench. Jack Bird can play almost any position on the field. I would go for more skill than size in adding Peachey. The Blues need an X-Factor and no one offers more than the freakish back rower. Turbo and Bird are automatic selections. Ryan James offers far more than the likes of Woods and Boyd for mine. On form, Frizell is probably just below the others listed but will be there. Finucane is knocking on the door. Turbo is once again automatic. Peachey has been in great form. He won’t be picked, but he should be.