The majority of talk for those North of the Tweed in the next two months will revolve around who represents the Maroons in the halves.
Rep footy retirements of legends Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston mean that, for the first time in a long-time, the Origin halves don’t pick themselves.
There is hardly a lack of talent available but as of right now there hasn’t been a head and shoulders above stand out performer.
Below we take a look at a few of the candidates for the vacant Queensland six and seven jerseys.
Comments yesterday made my Kevin Walters seem to indicate that Cameron Munster is the front runner for the number six jersey. The Storm superstar had a magical 2017 Origin series and was really a difference in the series decider. He did the job under huge pressure last season and has really lead the way for the Storm despite losing halves partner Cooper Cronk. He’ll do the job for them again in 2018.
In my eyes you can’t play both Cameron Munster and Anthony Milford so unless something massive happens over the next four weeks, Milford is at long odds to add to his one Origin appearance. He hasn’t exactly lit the competition alight although his footwork can break a game open at almost any time. Although you certainly can’t count the Broncos number six out, he’s a fair way down the pecking order.
Arguably the favourite to partner Munster in the halves, Morgan was the form player of the competition last year when it came to the finals series. He, like the Cowboys, have had their struggles in 2018 but as a QLD and Kangaroo incumbent, it would be very difficult to overlook him. Morgan’s kicking game is far superior to Milford’s and Morgan has Origin success on his resume. Form will play a role but he’s leading the race for now.
The first of three left-field options. That sounds strange to type as DCE has played Origin before, but his struggles have mirrored that of his club thus far in 2018. That said, Cherry Evans has the kicking game that others in this list may lack. Behind a better pack of forwards, the Sea Eagles number seven could cause some real problems for the Blues defence. Don’t count him out … yet.
The potential shock. If the Maroons do go ahead with Munster, they will need a number seven who can control the play, and can create pressure from the boot. Taylor has arguably the best kicking game in the competition. He is a try assist machine and can force dropouts to build pressure. Taylor is arguably a year or two off yet but there are a few players on this list that could be a little too similar to Munster. Taylor offers a completely different option.
Until Sunday afternoon I probably wouldn’t have had Norman on this list, but he’s a player I’m not sure I’d want to be defending against as a Blue. Norman can do amazing things, seemingly out of nowhere. With a month-or-so of football to be played between now and game one selections, I’ve got two eyes firmly set on Norman. No, I don’t expect him to be picked, but if he fires, he could very well join the discussion.
Arguably of the form halfback of the competition, Ben Hunt will be in the squad, and I’d play him in the number seven. Hunt’s form is a huge reason why the Dragons are leading the competition. Yes, he has, at times, played second fiddle to Gareth Widdop, but he would fill the exact same role for either Munster or Morgan at rep level. He’s a current Kangaroo and can move into the nine if needed. His game compliments that of Munster almost perfectly.
As it stands it’s almost a given that Munster and Morgan line up in the halves, but Ben Hunt is right on the later’s heels. All three will likely be in the squad, with Hunt likely to play from the bench, but I’d tend to lead with Hunt in the seven and throw the versatile Morgan in where needed.