Unfortunately, it looks as though injuries are going to shape Origin selection just as much, if not more, than form and ability.
Origin contenders continue to be ruled out, or at least are forced to race the clock, after another weekend of injuries.
Below we take a look at the best 13 outside of the 17 players named in last week’s likely Origin teams. Players such as DCE, who would have been picked for Origin if not for injury, were not considered.
1. Moses Mbye
Tigers fans were calling for his shift into the centres or even the halves after a poor showing at fullback on the weekend but outside of those in the current 17, Mbye is the next in line for the number one. His form may be down but Mbye is a very talented player and a natural fullback. If Ponga goes down injured I have little doubt they’d shift Morgan to one but Mbye is the next in line after that.
2. Edrick Lee
The Knights’ try scoring winger is one injury away from a call up. That would have sounded crazy 12 months ago but a strong end to the season for the Sharks and a solid 2019 has the loveable giant real close. He’s been 18th man in the past so he has camp experience. He’s tall, quick and can score a magical try out of nowhere. Who knows?
3. Justin O’Neill
I actually think O’Neill will be selected if McCullough is ruled out. That may sound strange but McCullough is the last nine standing, meaning Hunt will shift to hooker and Michael Morgan (from centre) into the halves. O’Neill is the only ready made option available to step in. He has Origin experience and is a brilliant player on his day. His stock is down but he may shift to the wing with Gagai moving to centres.
4. Corey Thompson
The Tigers utility could very well find himself making an Origin debut at 29 years of age. It could come on the wing, or possibly at centre. Greg Inglis’ retirement and Michael Morgan’s potential shift into the halves has Thompson in the discussion. A brilliant try scorer who will never let you down. I don’t like the Latrell or Addo-Carr match up though.
5. Kyle Feldt
He’s been named to return for the Cowboys following a long injury layoff but he may legitimately be three weeks away from a debut Origin jumper. Gagai may shift into the centres leaving a wing spot open. Right now I’d have Lee over him, or perhaps O’Neill, but Feldt is capable of some amazing things. 63 tries in 99 games and a MONSTER boot. Could be a secret weapon?
6. Anthony Milford
Milford is having a poor season. I don’t think that’s being too unkind. That said, he’s now in the Origin frame due to injuries elsewhere. The obvious move would be to shift Hunt into the nine with Morgan coming into the halves, but Milford may find himself in the six or on the bench despite not having played all that well in 2019. He’s got Origin experience which could see him come in over a debutant.
7. Ash Taylor
Taylor is struggling to put two good games together in a row due to injury and lack of form but is probably the next halfback in line. That’s scary. Not to say Taylor isn’t a brilliant player, he is, but his form in 2019 has not been great, or perhaps even good. Injuries have made his year to date very difficult, and I do see Taylor playing Origin in the future, just not in 2019.
8. Jarrod Wallace
Unlucky to miss the original 17 I named last week is the Titans’ bookend. Wallace has been solid in his Origin games to date and will be in the camp. A solid player capable of big numbers, Wallace is one of those players who could easily slot in with the minimum of fuss. Big fan.
9. Reed Mahoney
Who else is there? Smith is retired, Friend is injured, McCullough looks out, Hunt is set to play fullback but now may be forced to shift to nine. Yikes! Mahoney is a brilliant young player and could play Origin in the future, but there’s no way he’s ready yet. You could argue Jake Granville is the next in line but his stock is way down right now.
10. Matt Scott
Another who will slot straight in if called upon. The QLD’ers, for all their injuries and recent retirements, aren’t struggling in the middle. Scott was rumoured to be retiring from the Origin arena but stated he has unfinished business. Given the lack of experience elsewhere he may grab a bench spot. If not, any injuries up front are easily covered here.
11. Rhyse Martin
The forgotten man on the QLD selection scene is the Bulldogs’ work horse. He has spent time in 2019 in NSW Cup, laughable when you consider the Dogs’ struggles. Martin is hugely underrated and I wouldn’t be shocked if his name is brought up should injuries occur. He’s not in the top echelon at this time but you could do far worse.
12. Gavin Cooper
Another who was unlucky to miss the original 17, you’ll probably find Cooper is picked on the bench over Hess. Wonderful player. Huge fan. There’s nothing more you really need to say. He’ll be there or thereabouts.
13. Christian Welch
Welch could find himself in the running for a bench spot but may have fallen behind the likes of young Fifita. Has Origin in his future. The 24year-old Storm big man has all the tools to make the step up. Played for QLD under 20s in the past. The Maroons have great depth in the forwards.