Brad Fittler took a huge risk in naming an unprecedented 11 players to make their debut on Wednesday night. Given the Blues now lead the series 1-0 it’s safe to say his gamble paid off.
His decision to pick young, in form and fresh players made a lot of sense, but given the lap of rep experience, it was riddled with danger.
Although not all of this players delivered perfect 10 performances, fair to say he got the overwhelming percentage of decisions right. Below are the stand outs:
Damien Cook: For mine, Cook was the difference. His constant threat out of dummy half lead to the first try of the evening and had the Queensland big men going backwards. His ability to kick out of dummy half took pressure off the likes of Nathan Cleary and James Maloney. Cook was locked in a red hot battle with Cameron McInnes for the number nine jersey, and Fittler got it spot on. Was the second best player on the field and has a huge Origin career ahead of him. Tough as nails to play on after that horror shot from Will Chambers.
Latrell Mitchell: The riskiest selection in many eyes, Mitchell’s show down with Chambers had the potential to decide the result one way or another. Simply put the youngster absolutely bathed the competition’s elite centre. Mitchell showed experience beyond his years when he didn’t bite at Chambers’ attempts to bait him. Instead he broke tackles, and hearts by scoring an awesome Origin try. Almost had a second if not for an amazing try saving effort. Absolutely brilliant performance. HUGE game.
James Tedesco: Despite his amazing talents, Tedesco’s form put his number one jersey under pressure. Wednesday night’s perfect ten performance has put to bed any talk of Teddy’s rep future. Head and shoulders above the rest, Tedesco was near impossible to tackle. He broke a record 12/13 tackles (stats vary) and made line breaks at will. Scored the opener and was flawless in his positioning and handling. One of the great Origin performances.
Tom Trbojevic: Tommy Turbo was perhaps the most hotly debated selection with Nick Cortic desperately unlucky to miss out. Turbo repaid his coach’s faith by putting in a near flawless performance. He was amazing under the high ball, and out jumped Holmes for the match turning try. He was huge coming out of his own end and coped really well in his battle with the world’s premier winger. He had to be there somewhere and outplayed expectations.
Jack de Belin: There was plenty of talk about de Belin’s starting over Jake Turbo but I think Fittler got it right. de Belin was keen in both defence and attack early on and helped establish the middle battle. He didn’t play as many minutes as I would have expected but he book ended the game brilliantly. Although Jake is far more creative, de Belin’s no nonsense play perfectly fit his rose. Inspired selection.
Josh Addo-Carr: What a brilliant performance from the Melbourne Storm superstar. The Fox has gone from reserve grade cast off to NSW superstar in a matter of two seasons. Incredible. He more than held his own against Dane Gagai, and scored the match-icing try. Almost had a second. He threatened every time he touched the ball and took every hit up on offer.
Boyd Cordner: Despite being in form that saw very public criticism of his Origin selection, Cordner justified his selection many times over. He was absolutely immense and made the most metres of any forward for his side. He hit hard, he ran the ball with aggression and put pressure on the QLD halves from very early on. It was, by far, Cordner’s best performance of the season. He was huge and lead from the front all night. Massive!