When it comes to Origin, form counts. QLD, for many years, have picked a form team and as a result, have built a dynasty.
Yes, they have picked a core bunch of players but they’ve supplemented them with form players and have enjoyed unprecedented success as a result.
New South Wales picked on form last season and enjoyed a 2-1 series win.
Will they go for the same tactic in 2019 or will they look for big name players despite their form?
We take a look at the NSW form guide below. We haven’t included every player being looked at, just a few stand outs for each.
Luke Keary: Arguably the form player of the competition right now. On pure form, the Roosters’ pivot will be the first player picked for the Blues. He was the main man in last year’s Grand Final and has continued to roll on in brilliant form. For a player to relegate Cooper Cronk to the second playmaker says it all. Keary played halfback for the Kangaroos at the end of 2018 and could play in the seven for the Blues if needed. You’d be a brave man to split up or drop a successful Origin pairing, especially one playing together each week, but right now it’s almost criminal to leave Keary out.
James Tedesco: Fellow Rooster James Tedesco is absolutely flying right now. Last year he was the best player for New South Wales across the three games, and in many people’s opinions, he was the player of the series. Truthfully Teddy is probably in that rare field in that he’ll be picked regardless of form, but right now he and RTS are in a two-way dual for the form fullback position. A wonderful player who now has plenty of representative experience he shapes as key to the Blues’ chances yet again. He gets sets under way on the front foot with his kick returns, he can ball play, and he has even added a short kicking game. Brilliant.
Damien Cook: There were genuine fears that Wayne Bennett would stifle the superstar number nine’s running game but nothing could be further from the truth. If Tedesco wasn’t the Blues’ best last year then Cook certainly was. The way he continues to bust teams apart up the middle despite them preparing for Cook’s dummy half running is a real highlight. Origin games can be won and lost off those off-the-cuff plays and Cook is the master as such. If there is a tired or out of position forward in the line, Cook will burn them every time. He’s flying for the Bunnies right now.
Paul Vaughan: Arguably the form front rower up for selection, the Dragons’ big man has laid the foundations for wins across the past three weeks. It was his run, metre gain and quick play the ball that allowed Corey Norman to slot a field goal against the Knights. Whereas other forwards were ambling, going sideways or allowed themselves to be dominated in tackles, Vaughan would not be denied. I’d be shocked if he’s not in the run on side come Origin one.
Latrell Mitchell: Latrell is hardly floundering right now but he’s also not busting down defences with every run as he was this time last year. Obviously, a move into the halves has affected his form as his game was forced to change for two to three weeks which just shows how talented this kid is. He was back to somewhere near his best against the Sharks last Saturday night and a few will forget that magical try he scored on half time. Watch out QLD defenders, Latrell is hitting form.
Nathan Cleary: Cleary, like most of the Panthers teammates, probably hasn’t had the season to date we would have expected. Again, it’s not like he’s fighting to retain his position at club level, but his opening fortnight was poor. A winning field goal against the Tigers might be the kick start his season needs, especially with Luke Keary knocking the door down for Origin selection. His next month will be massive and could decide the fate of the number seven jersey.
David Klemmer: I feel a little dirty putting Klemmer here but he was outplayed by his Manly counter part AFB last weekend. Klemmer has had a good start to the season but is expected to be the pack leader for club and state and that looks to have worn on him just a little. He’ll be the first prop picked come Origin one and I expect his next month to be massive, but a huge off-season shift is tough for even the biggest and brightest of players. I’m in no way worried but come Origin I expect Klemmer to be trampling people left and right.
DOWN ON FORM:
Angus Crichton: I don’t know that Crichton has been bad by any stretch, however his move to Bondi has seen his minutes and impact reduced. He was very quiet in an otherwise dominant Roosters side against the Sharks which was a shame. There won’t be many better opportunities to produce a game that ensures he can’t be overlooked for a starting birth or an Origin jersey. Has a big month ahead to retain his bench spot. Sadly I think his chances of a run on jersey are slim to none right now, the exact opposite of what I expected his move to the Roosters to bring him.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard: Relegated to the bench this weekend, RCG’s form has not been great in 2019. He’s firmly in Origin contention but the fact Ivan Cleary saw fit to pick Tim Grant over him says a fair bit about his season to date. Panthers fans seem down on their star big man right now and although I fully expect him to come out firing against the Sharks, you’d expect better from an Origin and Kangaroo player of his quality.
James Maloney: Another who has been far from awful but, on form alone, is certainly struggling to hold onto his jersey. The Panthers are 2-3, with both wins coming in scrappy circumstances. We all know Maloney can do, he’s a two-time Premiership winner and an Origin winner, however, he recorded 13 missed tackles last weekend alone. Defensively he has never been a stand out, however, he is becoming a real target, which saps his energy in attack. Maloney has dropped out of a lot of predicted sides due to his form not matching that of Walker or Keary. Never count a champion out though.