Yesterday we named the six players that simply would not be left out of the New South Wales Origin side. The automatic selections, without any argument, who would represent their state unless injured.
Today we take a look at the Maroons.
Originally, I only had five players on this list, but I talked myself into adding a sixth.
For those who missed the Blues names, these aren’t six players I believe will be selected, these are six players who WILL be selected.
There will likely be players who will be selected, like David Fifita for instance. However, I could argue that his lack of match fitness and the fact that the Broncos will miss the finals series could see better options emerge.
As for the below six superstars, there simply is no argument against their inclusion.
The Blues have Teddy, the Maroons have Ponga. The first player picked for the Maroons will be the Knights superstar. Ponga is an elite fullback and has already produced at the Origin level. His debut off the bench almost won them the series and his absence in Game 3 in 2019 may have decided the series.
For the Maroons to wrestle back the Shield, they need their number one fully fit and firing. The Knights look set for a return to finals footy so Ponga should be in peak match fitness and hopefully, for Knights fans, in red hot form. He is the key to both the Knights title chances and Queensland’s series hopes. Automatic selection!
The second easiest decision here comes in the form of the Storm five-eighth. Munster may even pip Ponga as the first player picked. He’ll slot in at five-eighth despite his ability to play at centre or fullback. The Maroons needed Munster to play in the number one last year but at full fitness his best role is in the six.
Munster, although pushed recently by Keary, is the game’s premier five-eighth and I would argue that his experience for state and country sees him hold an advantage over whomever the Blues pick to oppose him. One of the elite players of the competition, there is absolutely no argument that any league fan can present to deny Munster an automatic selection.
Despite the recent players poll naming AFB as the game’s best front rower, Josh Papalii is the game’s best front rower and no one can convince me otherwise. The first forward picked for the Maroons, and outside of perhaps Cordner, the first forward picked for the Kangaroos. Papalii is an Origin star in ever sense of the word.
Blues fans hate the sight of the rampaging middle man who can just as easily play second row, lock or come off the bench. He will be named at prop for the Maroons unless injured. No ifs, ands or buts. Incredible player. Honestly seems to get better with age too, which is scary.
The second Maroons middle to be an automatic selection is the Cowboys enforced. McGuire probably lacks the ball playing skills of his opponent in Jake Trbojevic, although he looked silky smooth this past Friday evening in that regard.
McGuire lives for the scrap and his Origin performances over the years have left plenty south of the border cursing his name. A big metre eater, capable of big minutes, McGuire walks into the Maroons side regardless of his form. Exactly the kind of player who makes Origin the pinnacle of the game. Easy in at lock, prop or from the bench. For mine he is the premier QLD number 13.
Out of sight, out of mind? Not for the Cowboys, Maroons and Kangaroos star utility Michael Morgan. Although he’s missed the majority of the 2020 season, he walks into the Maroons 17 somewhere without any second guess whatsoever.
A genius footballer with Origin, World Cup and Grand Final experience, Morgan can play centre, in the halves, in the middle or from the bench. With DCE, Ponga and Munster likely to fill the 1, 6 and 7, I’d guess Morgan might have to ‘settle’ for a centre spot. Although his ability to play through the middle from the bench may give the Maroons an advantage that the Blues cannot match.
Without a doubt the most controversial name on the list, but there is no way the Queenslanders enter this series, or any series where he’s available, without Valentine Holmes. Although he hasn’t enjoyed the greatest return to Rugby League following a year off, Holmes has literally won Origin games, and a series, for the Maroons.
He absolutely towelled up his NSW opposition during the Maroons record setting run, with no one in Sky Blue capable of containing him. He can be the difference and simply HAS to be picked.
Let us know below if any of the above could be considered “non-certanties” or if we missed anyone out.