An unfortunate jaw injury suffered by Panthers prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard means the Blues will be forced into a change for Origin II.
Given the overall performance Brad Fittler will be loathe to make a change to his side but he was able to name three pretty handy replacements for his starting big man.
We take a look at the three men in the running to make their Origin debut this Sunday night for the Blues:
Prior has been an absolute rock for the Sharks for many years now and was massive in their run to their maiden Grand Final win in 2016. He was a one man wrecking crew in the capital to bounce the Raiders and set up a home run into the decider.
Prior has footwork like few other props in the game. His lateral movement is unmatched in the front row. He will give you 50/60 minutes worth of work that is as aggressive in the 80th minute as in the first. He will literally tackle all night.
His ability to create second phase play in the Shire has added a dimension to their game that had not been seen for many years. He and Andrew Fifita were named co-players of the year in the Sharks’ 2016 run.
His form in 2018 has been very good. He’s not the game-breaking forward in the Fifita mold but he will literally never let you down. There is no doubt in the world that he would step up to the rep scene in a like for like replacement for RCG.
Tariq Sims: Sims is already in Origin camp as 18th man which makes him the most likely replacement. It would make sense the in-form and versatile big man comes straight in given he’s already been in the set up for over a week.
That said, I doubt Sims comes in at prop. That’s not to say he couldn’t, he has the size and work rate, but a back rower in his club footy, it may be a big ask to make his Origin debut in the middle.
Paul Vaughan would likely be elevated to the run on side with Jack de Belin or Jake Turbo filling in at prop. Vaughan would play more minutes than RCG so the forward rotation would not change a whole lot.
Sims is a potential game changer off the bench and offers an interesting option. He is a monster human and has a cheeky offload in his game. He’s really curbed his aggression and has added it as a huge plus to his game.
No one could begrudge the in-form Dragons second rower an Origin debut that many may think is long overdue.
Ryan James: James has spent the season at the Titans moving between a wide-running second rower and a middle man. I doubt anyone could argue against the fact James is far more effective in a front row/lock type role, and that’s exactly why he is a ready made replacement for RCG.
James can play big, big minutes and seems to be on a try-scoring run. He was so close to being picked in Origin I that reports indicated he was literally on his way to the airport to fly into camp before being told he would be overlooked.
The Titans captain is in red hot form right now and has long been earmarked as an Origin player. He has aggression in spades, can change a game with a bit hit, and has an attacking aspect to his game that the others probably can’t match.
James could come straight into the run on side or come off the bench with minimal disruption to the game plan. If anything he would probably offer more than RCG in terms of attacking flair and minutes and would be the first man chosen for mine.
Let us know below, do you agree that Ryan James should come straight in, or are Sims or Prior the better option?