Last week in Origin Watch we took a look at the Queensland halves situation. This week we take a look at the Blues' six and seven combination.
Realistically this could be the single biggest call made by either set of selectors as the halves could very well decide the outcome of the series.
Unfortunately for the Blues a few of their hoped halves big guns have failed to fire thus far in 2018 but with a few weeks of footy to come, it may be time for someone to stand up and demand selection.
We take a look at the hottest possibilities:
James Maloney: As close to an automatic selection as there will be for the 2018 New South Wales Blues. He's the most experienced half the Blues could possibly pick and it's all but a guarantee he'll line up come the start of the series. Form of other players will dictate whether he wears six or seven. His kicking game will be absolutely key for the Blues' attack. Unfortunately it looks as though Maloney will be carrying the hopes of an entire state on his shoulders given the lack of stand out contenders to partner him.
Nathan Cleary: The Blues received some potentially series changing news with reports indicating that Nathan Cleary is well ahead of his originally diagnosed injury return. Cleary is running again and has been cleared to play in round 11. This will mean he has two games, against the Tigers and Dragons, to press his case. You'd have to imagine that two big 80 minute performances, combined with the fact he plays club footy with Maloney will make him the big favourite. His passing game will free up Maloney to attack the line, and his goal kicking could change the result. If, and it's a big if, he can press his case across 160 minutes of footy, he's right in the mix.
Adam Reynolds: If Brad Fittler wants to pick an experienced halfback, Adam Reynolds is his man. For the record I don't see Reynolds in the mix right now but with no stand out option, the safe bet is the man who has played Origin previously. Another who can free up Maloney to run at the line. If there is no break out performer over the next few weeks, Reynolds comes into play. He's been good but even the biggest Bunnies fan will have trouble convincing me hes among the form halves.
Mitch Moses: Moses was all but the man to save the Blues in the pre-season. Unfortunately he has failed in a big way to live up to the expectations set upon him. The past two weeks have been far improved as he has been arguably the Eels' best over the fortnight. If that form continues, Moses becomes a big player in the decision making process. Brad Fittler is a big fan having seen Moses do a magical job for Lebanon at the World Cup.
Luke Keary: Keary's form has been up and down all season and in order to push his claim he'll really need a big few weeks. The talent is certainly there, although even if he does fire, he has declared for Queensland despite being ruled eligible for the Blues only. Watch this space, but only if the next few weeks sees Keary on fire.
Matt Moylan: A former Origin half, Moylan has not fired yet at the Sharks and will not feature.
Jack Bird: Has not made enough of his opportunity in the halves to be a contender.
Cody Walker: I have no idea how Walker's name has not been mentioned in the media yet. He's having a wow of a season and is one of the game's most exciting halves. He has the ability to break a game open at any time. I expect Walker's name to become a talking point if he has a big game this weekend.
Dylan Walker: Named in the six jersey for the Sea Eagles, Walker is a former Origin player himself. He has a chance to light up the competition and fly into contention. It's a massive long shot at this stage.
Blake Green: The wildcard! The man I chose to partner Maloney in my early Origin side and I'm not sure there has been enough from others to change my mind. Green is the most reliable man in the competition. He probably won't win you an Origin but he'll do exactly what he is tasked and will allow the likes of Maloney, Tedesco or Turbo to take charge and produce the magic plays. That said, he's capable of absolute rugby league brilliance himself. I'm a huge fan and would be shocked if he were not in the sights of the Origin big wigs.
Early prediction: If Cleary returns and plays two 80 minute games, and plays well, it's an all Penrith halves combination in sky blue. If not, Blake Green is the man for the job. For the record I can't see them going the way of Green, but if Cleary is not fit and firing, who is in better form right now? Perhaps only Cody Walker.