With the Rabbitohs and Raiders exiting the competition, five players from the combined outfits have been named by Brad Fittler for his extended NSW Origin squad.
Although all five were always likely, one player has missed out despite a fantastic season and can certainly consider himself unlucky.
A second player who has been supposedly earmarked for Origin for many years has again missed out.
Let’s take a look below:
Walker’s late season charge made him arguably the form player of the competition as we hit the Preliminary Finals. There are talks that he may even edge Luke Keary for the number six jumper following his form in the past month.
I think if he’s there in Origin One, it’ll be from the bench given his utility value across the park. Walker’s season has been incredible and there is no doubt he has justified this selection.
I’m a little worried of his form in the genuine big games, although if he’s ever going to break that perceived hoodoo, it’s in 2020.
An automatic selection and all but guaranteed to hold onto his NSW jumper is the South Sydney superstar. The former beach sprinter (just incase you had forgotten) will likely play the full 80 minutes come Origin One.
Although McInnes may be named on the bench, I see no value in Cook being on the bench. He’s the game’s most dangerous number nine and provides a big advantage over his Maroon counterparts.
His experience and past Origin performances make him one of the Blues big weapons. Had a magical season yet again despite being kept quiet in the Prelim. Genuine Origin star.
Another near automatic selection is the Bunnies middle man. I don’t foresee Brad Fittler playing Murray in the centres or second row any time soon either.
Murray is likely to start from the bench given Jurbo and possibly even Finnucane’s selection, however there is no one better at gaining momentum while being tackled and then playing the ball quickly.
This will create space for Cook and co and should provide an avenue of attack I’m not sure QLD can replicate. Has to be in the 17 somewhere, be it at 13 or from the bench.
The Dally M medallist was a sure fire selection after a career best season and his incredible performances for the Blues in 2019.
There are calls for Wighton to play in his preferred number six come the series opener, however, I think he offers a massive advantage in the centres.
I’m not a huge fan of players being picked out of position at Origin level however Wighton has a tonne of experience as an outside back and has excelled previously at this level. His versatility means the Blues don’t have to name a specialist utility either.
He scored his team’s only two tries in their prelim defeat, capping off yet another brilliant season. He would be the first winger picked for the Maroons on current form and to be honest I’m not sure (given Holmes will be suspended for Game One) who matches up on the Bulldogs bound try scorer.
Those Left Out
For mine, Adam Reynolds is the shock non selection to this point. We all know that Nathan Cleary is the first choice number seven but if he is to be injured or suspended, I thought Reynolds was the clear cut second option.
It looks as though Luke Keary will play seven if called upon with either Wighton or Walker playing in six, but given the strength of Reynolds kicking game and ability to control, I just assumed he was a near certainty to be in the squad somewhere.
The Raiders captain has long been thought of as a future Origin player. Given Tommy Turbo was ruled out of an assured spot in the centres, this was surely the season for Croker to finally make that jump.
Unfortunately his form in 2020 was very inconsistent and any thoughts of a possible Origin call up were ended on Friday Night.
Crichton seems an automatic selection, however with Fittler likely to opt for Gutherson playing out of position, this probably ends Croker’s slim hopes.