BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 12: Luke Keary of the Roosters is tackled during the round nine NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Canberra Raiders at Suncorp Stadium on May 12, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

Following the Blues’ drought-breaking Origin series win in 2014, I could not believe that Laurie Daley was about the change a winning halves combination.

A successful club halves combination at that.

Reynolds and Hodkinson got the job done against arguably the greatest QLD side we’ve ever seen. Their form at club level in 2015 was fair and they deserved a chance to defend the crown they had huge hands in winning the year prior.

Fast forward to 2019 and we face a similar situation, yet my stance is very different.

There is no chance in the world that Brad Fittler can name James Maloney and Nathan Cleary as New South Wales Origin halves come game one … not if he wants a shot at retaining the shield anyways.

Straight off the bat, I want to admit that I am big fans of both players. James Maloney was the Sharks’ best player in the finals series that took us to a Grand Final victory in 2016. His boot literally secured our first ever premiership. I’ll never forget that.

I still believe Nathan Cleary is destined for 20 Origin games and has a monster future ahead of him.

That said, neither player has earned the right in 2019 to feel secure in first grade let alone secure in their Origin jumper.

Again, nothing against either player, but the only reason the Panthers aren’t propping up the competition right now is due to points differential. That’s not good enough for Origin quality halves.

To place full blame on the halves for Penrith’s woes would be too simple and quite frankly unfair, but halves take the credit in successful sides and must take the heat in awful sides.

Right now, the Panthers are an awful side.

Meanwhile, you have two eligible halves absolutely playing the house down in Cody Walker and Luke Keary.

Adam Reynolds is kicking teams into submission. Chad Townsend is in career best form and is firmly in the discussion.

I’d argue that Nathan Cleary is not in the top 10 halves in 2019. Maloney the top 12 five-eighths.

Their efforts in last year’s Origin series can NEVER be forgotten. That tackle by Cleary, Maloney’s kicking game and those rocket passes that lead to Latrell terrorising Will Chambers.

Their 2019 form though has been sub-par. Maloney’s miss tackle count is eye-watering, and although that stat can be hugely misleading, he’ll be a huge target come Origin One if selected. Boyd Cordner is a wonderful player but talk about pressure having to tackle for two.

In my predicted team, I said I expected Maloney to be picked. I don’t believe that to be so any more, however, I would not be shocked to see one of the Panthers’ halves picked. I’d go Maloney’s experience if you HAVE to pick one of the two incumbent halves. Right now I wouldn’t even go down that path.

For me, Keary is there. No doubt. Injury-aside, he’s the best half NSW has right now. Whether he plays six or seven will be dictated by who is picked to partner him.

His partner? One of the current Souths halves.

I’d go Reynolds with Keary at six, but Cody Walker’s form is hard to ignore. He could play six, with Keary shifting to seven, but they’re just too similar for mine.

Townsend is a shout on the back of some incredible form. Some will laugh at his name being mentioned but he’s lead a hugely under manned Sharks outfit to some crazy wins. His performance against Melbourne was something to behold.

Let’s not forget he’s a premiership winner and schooled Cooper Cronk on the biggest stage in club football.

Keary though, the current Kangaroos’ number seven, should be the first half picked, in his favoured position, at six.

Slot Reynolds or Townsend (Reynolds due to his kicking game and experience) in at seven. Run Cody off the bench if you need to. I wouldn’t, but you couldn’t begrudge him a spot if chosen.

Unless Penrith put 60 on the Warriors this weekend I’d put a line through both Penrith halves. Cleary especially.

As long as they don’t go back to Mitchell Pearce …

Centre of attention: Who will it be?

James Roberts is out of contention for Origin One after being dropped to reserve grade.

Rumours indicate that the current Blues speedster has fallen out with Anthony Seibold due to defensive misreads and a lack of attacking flair.

So who comes in to partner Latrell Mitchell?

Unfortunately, all the lead contenders have fallen out due to injury over the past weeks and we’re left with three options.

Jesse Ramien: A hugely talented yet woefully underused centre struggling to find the ball let alone form.

Jarrod Croker: A star left centre at club level, yet someone who has never been able to shake off the tag of being defensively … not strong.

Playing someone out of position: Calls for Jack Wighton to be shifted from five-eighth are growing. Calls to play Gutherson are getting louder. Josh Morris has even mentioned he’d come out of retirement if called upon.

SURELY this is Jarrod Croker’s time. A player who has been so close to selection for as long as I can remember, surely this is his time.

Do they go back to Michael Jennings or Josh Morris? Surely it’s time to move forward, no back.

Croker is more than capable and is playing well. Plus I’d love to see a sky blue headgear.


  1. Mitch AubussonπŸ’ͺπŸ”πŸ‘‰ Best utility in the World. because he covers backs, halves and forwards. There is no other in his class. If Frederick Fittler and his selection panel overlook Mitch Aubusson, Then we need a new selection panel. πŸ’ͺπŸŽ±πŸ‘βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”

  2. Hate to say it but I can’t see Croker getting the nod, no matter how much I think he deserves it. It would be great to see him in the sky blue but I don’t think it will happen.

  3. Croker deserves a run, If they go with Coker they should put Aubo on the bench.πŸ’ͺπŸŽ±πŸ‘βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”βœ”

  4. Surprise, surprise, WoodChook, the first comment has come from you. The half pairings should be Luke Keary, and Nathan Cleary.

  5. this would be my team based on form and injuries
    1. teddy
    2. fergo
    3. L. mitchell
    4. Crocker
    5. the fox
    6. keary
    7. A. reynolds
    8. klemmer
    9. cook
    10. mclean
    11. cordner
    12. frizz
    13. murry
    14. m. aubo
    15. jake T
    16. Vaughy
    17. critchon

    18. cotric
    19. T. sims

  6. I’d go with this tbh:

    1. James Tedesco
    2. Josh Addo-Carr
    3. Latrell Mitchell
    4. Jesse Ramien
    5. Blake Ferguson
    6. Luke Keary
    7. Adam Reynolds
    8. David Klemmer
    9. Damien Cook
    10. Paul Vaughan
    11. Boyd Cordner
    12. Tyson Frizell
    13. Jake Trbojevic

    14. Cody Walker
    15. Cameron Murray
    16. Tariq Sims
    17. Jordan McLean

  7. I’m 99 and still quicker than a pink/Chocholate Soldier Panther🐈πŸ’ͺπŸŽ±πŸ‘πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£——–πŸ’ͺπŸ”πŸ‘

  8. 1. Tedesco
    2. Tupou
    3. Mitchell
    4 Aubusson
    5. Morris. (Rooster Morris
    6. Keary
    7. Pearce
    8. Klemmer
    9. Aubusson
    11 Cordner (c)
    12 Aubusson
    13 Aubusson

    14. Aubusson
    15 Radley
    16. Frizell
    17. Trbojevic

    18 Walkerbout


  9. Aubusson won’t let anyone down if given the chance, he has the experience and has played inside of Ferguson many times. I’d compare him to a player like Prior, not the flashiest player but does all the little things right and is just consistent. Him, Gutherson, Ramien or Cotric will get that right centre spot. Croker is good but he’s suspect in defence and is a specialist left centre. Keary and Reynolds halves as they have played halves before, Walker utility on the bench.

    1. Tedesco
    2. Addo-Carr
    3. Mitchell
    4. Gutherson
    5. Ferguson
    6. Keary
    7. Reynolds
    8. Klemmer
    9. Cook
    10. Vaughan
    11. Cordner (C)
    12. Crichton
    13. Murray

    14. Walker
    15. Trbojevic
    16. Finucane
    17. Frizell

  10. 1: J Tedesco
    2: J Addo Carr
    3: L Mitchell
    4: C Gutherson
    5: B Ferguson
    6: L Keary
    7: A Reynolds
    8: D Klemmer
    9: D Cook
    10: P Vaughn
    11: B Cordner
    12: T Frizzel
    13: J Trbovevic

    14: T Sims
    15: Jr Paulo
    16: J McLean
    17: V Radley

  11. 1. J Tedesco
    2. J Addo-Carr
    3. L Mitchell
    4. J Morris
    5. B Fergerson
    6. L Keary
    7. A Reynolds
    8. D Klemmer
    9. D Cook
    10. P Vaughn
    11. B Cordner
    12. T Frizzel
    13. J Trbojevic
    14. R Matterson
    15. C Murray
    16. T Pangai-Jnr
    17. A Crichton

  12. Panther18 I would rather write (more on) here than read the rot you come up with. At least I produce facts. Here’s a fact about the Chocolate Soldiers mate. Since 1972 when the modern game was born with the introduction of the 6 tackle rule. Penrith have qualified for the semi finals on 13 occasions out of 47 seasons with a success rate of playing semi footy at 27.6%.πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£

    Just as hopeless as souffffffffffffffffffffs who have the exact same statistics, BUT, and its a BIG BUT, Penrith have won two premierships while souffffffffffffffffffffs are forever in Penriths SHADOW with πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ’ͺπŸ”πŸ‘‰———–ONE ONLY Premiership in 48 years——πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ€£πŸ˜‚πŸ‡πŸ₯„πŸŽ±

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