BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 10: Payne Haas of the Broncos is tackled during the round nine NRL match between the Manly Sea Eagles and the Brisbane Broncos at Suncorp Stadium on May 10, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

We’re less than a week from the naming of squads for Origin I and neither side is completely locked in yet … At least from the outside.

Of course, there are always small differences in predicted sides but 2019 predicted sides are hugely skewed.

Tedesco, Cook, Mitchell, Addo Carr, Cordner, Friz, Jurbo and Klemmer are in almost every side out there.

Outside of that, it’s mayhem.

Below we look at the big talking points with one weekend of footy between now and the Blues side being named.

Who are the halves?:

It’s impossible to think that Fittler will proceed with the same halves he chose in 2018 despite their series success.

Penrith are running last and their halves are ‘leading’ almost every negative stat.

Cleary is flat chat holding onto his first-grade spot while Maloney is setting missed tackle records.

Who will it be?

Does Fittler stick by his tried and tested? Does he opt for form and give debuts to the high flying Cody Walker and Luke Keary?

Does he turn to a club combination and go with Walker and Reynolds? They are leading the competition.

Does he blood one player and turn to the experienced and in-form Mitchell Pearce?

I’d be shocked, despite reports, if either Panthers half is named.

Keary and Reynolds for me.

Experience or youth in the centres?:

Roberts is out. He’s been relegated to reserve grade and surely can’t be picked.

Leilua looked set for a long talked about Origin debut but injury ended his hopes.

Does Fittler take a risk and name Jarrod Croker or Jack Wighton out of preferred side/position? Does he fast-track Nick Cotric’s Origin debut?

Or does he look back to go forward and name Josh Morris or Michael Jennings?

Morris is in very good form for the Sharks, while Jennings has shown glimpses of the form that made him a NSW mainstay for years.

Croker has been mentioned in Origin discussions for as long as I can remember.

Cotric will play Origin at some stage in his career. He’s been good in the centres over the past few weeks.

Do the Blues shift Blake Ferguson into centres? He played there for many years to great success.

Croker for mine.

Does Fittler unleash Haas?:

A few weeks ago in Origin watch, I stated Vaughan, Klemmer and McLean were absolute certainties to be the Blues bookends… Now I’m not so sure.

Klemmer and Vaughan are locks. No arguments.

McLean looks in serious doubt thanks to the emergence of Broncos monster Payne Haas.

Haas is yet to play 20 NRL games. Usually, that stat would immediately DQ him from discussion.

That said, I think he’s going to be picked.

The Roosters couldn’t contain him. They’re not the first pack to feel the youngsters wrath and they certainly won’t be the last.

The Blues could go with four props. If so Haas is an almost guarantee.

On form, Haas is in. I can’t argue, although I wouldn’t be leading the pitchfork army should he be overlooked.

Do the Blues play a utility off the bench?:

Over the past few seasons, especially in Origin, it’s become almost a given that sides will play a utility off the bench.

Whether that be someone to play minutes to allow players to rest, or someone capable of playing multiple positions in case of injury or lack of impact.

Tyrone Peachey isn’t showing Origin form. He’s coming off the bench for a fairly dire Titans side.

Do the Blues pick a utility? Does Peach’s versatility make him a must select?

Does Fittler have to find a spot for Cody Walker?

Do the Blues opt for four forwards? A big bench can change the game, but it also limits your weapons should it become not so smooth sailing.

Peachey has been trying to do too much on the Gold Coast and hasn’t been able to find his role. This will cost him his spot in my mind.

Mitch Aubusson and John Asiata have been mentioned as possible debutants.

I wouldn’t be shocked if either are named. There will surely be a utility named.

Form or incumbents?:

Crichton played well in last year’s series but has been well outplayed by Cam Murray this season.

Tariq Sims had a debut to forget and is hardly bashing the selection door down.

Meanwhile, Dale Finucane is one of the games most consistent yet underrated forwards.

On form, it’s hard to see any of the Game Three bench players being there in 2019’s Game One (De Belin’s suspension obviously impacts his and Jurbos status here).

Cam Murray surely has to be selected. Prior and Finucane are well ahead of Sims for mine.

Crichton has done nothing wrong and should be selected.

Haas and McLean have one spot between them sewn up.

Murray and Crichton to join utility and Haas/McLean in my side.

8 COMMENTS

  1. If Nathan Cleary is selected by Fittler as the Blues half, it makes a mockery of the whole representative arena; the notion that if you play your best you will be considered for representative honors. SOO is the pinnacle of NRL, if you are selected, it means you are at the top of your game, it means you are the best player in that position, it means you have outshone your competitors, it means the selection committee noticed and rewarded your efforts in the lead up to selection.

    Nathan Cleary has failed on all of those KPI’s to be the NSW half in the 2019 SOO series. So why is he the front runner to be selected?

    Could it be because Fittler was and still is a “Penrith boy”?
    Could it be because Greg Alexander, a Penrith Board member is a SOO selector and made an under the table agreement for SSO representation with Cleary when he signed for 5 years?
    Could it be because Gould made Fittler promise to uphold a guarantee in 2018 that if Cleary is selected, Fittler will stick with him in future years regardless of form?

    I can tell you all of the above has overridden what should be the ONLY selection criterion used when selecting a representative team.

    I know for certain, despite being horribly out of form Cleary WILL be the NSW half this year and will stay there for all 3 games!.

    What message will this send to the Blues Fans?, blind Freddy can see Cleary does not deserve to be there.
    What message will this send to Cody Walker, Adam Reynolds, Luke Brooks and Mitchell Moses who have outplayed Cleary in the halves by a country mile in 2019?

    As a NSW tragic, with Cleary selected, I hope the QLD bash the hell out of Cleary every time he gets the ball and further erode any confidence he has in his game left; as much as it pains me to say this I hope QLD win the series 3-0.

    If this happens it should be the last we see Cleary in a Blues jumper; it should be the last we see the bias selectors in Alexander and it should spell the end of Fittler as a credible coach.

  2. You hope QLD win this series 3-0?
    It disgusts me that you claim you are a Blues supporter.
    I don’t care if Ivan Milat is our starting halfback. You still back your state and hope the toads get squashed.

  3. Kev…
    There you go again. Signing in as 2041 & replying to yourself as Kev?
    Come on Rif guy, get real!

  4. Halves = Keary Cleary (Keary is obviously the one of the form halves and has experience with Australia and deserves his go, Ive gone with Cleary. Two reasons firstly his goal kicking is great which is very important in origin and secondly these two form what is likely to be the long term halves should give them a go now, plus going away from his dad at the park there’s could start something)

    Centre = Jennings (Jennings obviously has experience and is good on defence, plus he has played with Ferguson at the roosters and now they play together at the eels)

    My bench would be
    14. Walker
    15. McLean
    16. Crichton
    17. Murray

    Would also have Haas, Reynolds and Cotric.

    Walker, the form player so far, can be used to cover possibly the back and possibly hooker but what he is there for is impact and his speed and running game. Plus if Cleary looks like he can’t handle it and can’t get it right he can come in. McLean has been good a few years and likely playing against Scott or Hess off the QLD bench he’s could use some inside knowledge to his advantage. Crichton and Murray pick themselves.

    You carry Reynolds to cover Cleary, Haas because his impact he could have and get his use to that environment. Cotric again get him use to the environment and is there if a back goes down.

    Feel for Radley. If Friend stayed fit and he stayed at Lock he could have made it but he hasn’t been as good since the change.

  5. I can understand your pain as wanting your team to lose and a player get battered so the coach make a change or gets fired, I’m a Warriors supporter and we went from having Hurrell to Kata. Both players who can’t attack the High ball, don’t pass the ball, are oversized and regularly get run around. But now he have Herbert and he is playing great footy. He’s similar to Joseph Manu, when he wants I feels like he can take on anyone 1v1 on defence and has a nack of getting a offload or scoring vital tries. He’s also a great goal kicker. Now my biggest concern is Adam Blair thinking he’s a five eight, getting paired like he’s one too and only making 30 metres a game, does my head in

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