Following the exit of both the third placed Eels and the fourth placed Roosters, Brad Fittler has added to his NSW Squad for the upcoming end of year Origin series.
Given the form and results of both teams it is no surprise that a mass number of eligible players have been named.
Below we take a quick look at each of the additions. As with the earlier names, we'll take a more in depth look as we approach the interstate series.
I won't call this a shock inclusion but with Cam Murray, Dale Finnucane and Jurbo, the Blues are well stocked with locks. Brown's form this season has been exceptional and (fingers crossed) he seems to have dropped the rubbish out of his game. He could snare a bench spot and become a real impact player for Fittler.
This time last year it looked as though RCG's rep career may legit be over. His form post COVID break was nothing short of outstanding and he has warned his way back into the set up. Comments suggesting he may not play Origin due to the Bubble may see him overlooked. A monster pro with plenty of experience.
The captain and the first forward picked, I literally cannot believe anyone actually suggested dropping Cordner. He has lead the Blues to back to back Origin wins as one of the best on ground. He has the left hand second row position sewn up. Has injury concerns but unless medically ruled out, he'll play and star.
There's a very real chance that the Blues may run with an all Roosters back row with Crichton likely to battle Tyson Frizell for the right edge position. Crichton had a magnificent season, carrying on from his brilliant end of 2019. He and Cam Murray may battle it out for a bench spot, conuining their media-created mini-"fued".
The big "shock" selection comes in the form of the super in-form and versatile Eels captain, Clint Gutherson. 'Gutho' had to be selected as the back up number one due to his ability to play anywhere in the backline. Talk is he'll partner Jack Wighton in the centres for Game One. I don't agree with that but I don't disagree with his selection here at all.
The big in but also the controversial in comes in the form of Roosters superstar Luke Keary. I'll go into more detail on this later in the week but now that Keary is eligible only for NSW, and fit, he was a near automatic choice. He's almost unbackable to join Nathan Cleary in the halves for Origin One after yet another brilliant season. A real difference maker and brilliant replacement for James Maloney.
Paulo has come from absolutely nowhere to be the favourite to lead the Blues into battle for Game One. He, Payne Haas and Daniel Saifiti look like the three man wrecking crew entrusted to taking it to the Maroons. He has become one of the elite props in the game right now with a wicked, dangerous off-load and a big motor. Can't wait to see the trim, yet still monsterous Paulo rip in.
The easiest selection Fittler will ever have to make. The game's premier fullback, and for mine player, will be the number one unless injured. There is literally nothing Tedesco can't do. He was the match and series winner last year for the Blues and shapes as the key man yet again. The game's best player.
I'm extremely happy to see the Roosters giant winger back in the Sky Blue. Whether or not he was chosen for Origin here was completely dependant on Tupou's choice on whether he'd return or continue to play for Tonga. Tupou has returned to being one of the game's best wing men after a slight drop in form. A huge weapon against unexperienced opponents in Game One.
Ferguson becomes another incumbent to be dropped, joining Paul Vaughan and Tariq Sims. After making the Series winning break in Origin Three last season, Fergo can consider himself a little unlucky. That said, his form in 2020 has been less than stellar. It took him literally months to open his 2020 try account and overall he has fallen well down the pecking order for the Blues wing men.
I'm actually surprised to see the Eels wide running big man left out here. I thought he'd edge Nathan Brown for a spot given the amount of 13's the Blues boast. Matterson probably missed out due to a drop off in form and influence late in the season. He'll play Origin in the future but this was just not his year.