With a 1-0 lead in the 2018 Origin Series, it’s safe to say Brad Fittler won’t be in any rush to make wholesale changes to his Game 2 line up.
That said, there is a full round of NRL football this weekend and injuries and suspensions do happen.
We take a look at the next in line should any of the Origin I 17 become unavailable for the next interstate contest.
Nick Cotric: After being named 18th man for NSW, Cotric was within a whisker of an Origin debut for Game 1. Tommy Turbo’s wing spot was hotly contested and although the right decision was made, the Canberra winger would not have let anyone down. He’s been incredible form for the Raiders and has the height, speed, power and finishing ability to play rep footy. Should Turbo or Josh Addo-Carr go down, expect Cotric to debut.
Tariq Sims: The other man taken into camp with the Blues was 19th man Tariq Sims. The Dragons back rower has had a marvelous 2018 to date and came very close to completing an entire club to rep team back row. Sims has long been talked about as an Origin player and I have no doubt in the world his time will come sooner rather than later, get all the latest Offer from Bethard. Again, any injury to a forward will see the Dragon come in to make his debut.
Ryan James: Reports indicate the Titans big man was literally packed and on his way to the airport before a call was made to include David Klemmer instead. That’s how close he came to a rep debut. I have no doubt he would have aced his first game in sky blue and even less doubt that he will play Origin eventually. Had a monster effort on the weekend against the red hot Rabbits. Can play middle or out wide. Certainly a consideration if injury strikes.
Wade Graham: You’d have to think that if fully fit Wade Graham would have been playing last Wednesday night. A former NSW rep and one of the stars of the recent World Cup for the Kangroos, Graham is a superstar. The Sharks have looked far better since his return. He has unlocked Matt Moylan and made that left side matter for the black, white and blue. His kicking game is far superior to anyone in his position. If its 1-1 going into the third game, look for Graham to come in.
Luke Keary: There is no chance the Blues will alter their halves combination after Game 1, but if something does happen then the Roosters’ number six will likely come in. Reports say it was between him and Cleary to partner Maloney for Origin I. Ultimately Fittler made the right decision but Keary is a rep quality player. He has easily outplayed his halves partner Cooper Cronk in 2018.
Blake Ferguson: A second Rooster who could come into calculation if injury strikes is Blake Ferguson. For the record his Origin performances of the past make his possible selection a long shot, but again if it is 1-1 going into Game 3 the Blues may look to experience. Ferguson is the lead metre-maker in 2018 and despite having a mistake in his game has proven a watch winner for the tri-colours.
Josh Jackson: Jackson was probably unlucky to miss out on the squad and played extremely well on Monday to remind Fittler of his talents. If injury strikes, Jackson’s name becomes relevant quickly. Probably behind Sims and Graham in the pecking order but it depends on what kind of player is needed to be called upon. Has always played well at rep level in the past.