SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 06: Chad Townsend and Michael Ennis of the Sharks watch the replay as they wait for the video referee decision during the round 13 NRL match between the Canterbury Bulldogs and the Cronulla Sharks at ANZ Stadium on June 6, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

Although the Origin series is still over a month away, coverage will be dominated by speculation over who will represent their state, and who will be overlooked.

Opinions seem greatly divided, across both states for the first time in many years, over who should be chosen.

The likes of James Tedesco, Boyd Cordner, Wade Graham, Tyson Frizell, and James Maloney seem to have almost universal support south of the tweed, but there seems to be plenty of decisions left to make elsewhere.

In Queensland, the nucleus of the side picks itself, although there will be a need for a few tough decisions to be made for those in Maroon also.

Despite plenty of talk yet to be had over the fate of the centre positions, as well as in the number nine jersey, and also the makeup of the bench for the Blues, perhaps the biggest decision facing selectors is just who to partner in the halves with James Maloney.

Related: Fancy playing coach? Pick your Origin team now!

The expected names seem to once again be at the forefront of everybody’s minds. Mitchell Pearce looks destined to once again join the Origin fray despite countless opportunities without success. Adam Reynolds provides arguably the biggest competition for the Roosters number seven.

Matt Moylan and Jack Bird have also been names thrown up to fill a running five-eighth role, moving Maloney to halfback. Canberra’s live-wire halves are also in the mix.

Even the names of Origin-hold out Luke Keary and Panther rookie Nathan Cleary have been offered up as suggestions to solve the troublesome selection dilemma.

Incredibly though, one player whose name is yet to be even mentioned in talks is that of Sharks number seven Chad Townsend.

Last week I explained that I expect Mitch Pearce is leading the selection race in the mind of Laurie Daley, unfortunately for long-suffering Blues fans the only man whose opinion really matters, while I would pick Souths halfback, Adam Reynolds.

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That said, I am at a complete loss as to a possible reason for the exclusion of Townsend’s name in discussions, at least in public.

The very ring on Townsend’s finger should see his name thrust into the headlines. For those who have missed the reference, the ring in question proudly displays the words ‘2016 Premiers’.

The Sharks halfback had a brilliant 2016 season, and played a huge role in his side finishing third following the regular rounds, and then emerging Grand Final victors.

The way in which he reacted after being dragged off the field following a below-par performance against the Raiders in the first round of last year’s finals series has become the stuff of legend.

Benched for the final stanza in the nation’s capital despite an amazing regular season, Townsend could very well have lost belief in himself and started planning his 2017 season. Instead, he took it on the chin then helped masterclass the defeat of the Thurston-led Cowboys in his club’s very next fixture.

He then massively outplayed Thurston’s rep halves partner Cooper Cronk on the grandest stage on the biggest day of both his life and his club’s history.

Outplaying the two best halves in modern rugby league across the space of a fortnight casts Chad into rare territory. Of course, there are many other factors at play here, but once again, the 2016 ring on his finger settles plenty of arguments.

Then there is, of course, the biggest advantage Townsend presents over each and every potential halves rival, his brilliant club combo with James Maloney.

Across 2016, and early rounds of the 2017 season, Maloney and Townsend have shared arguably the game’s best halves partnership. There are better halves pairings across the competition, but no two halves partners have struck up the kind of combinations of that of the Sharks number six and seven.

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Just this weekend Chad set up a try for Maloney with the boot, while both combined on many occasions to bend, and sometimes destroy, the Panthers defensive line.

In last season’s finals series, Maloney and Townsend were often the players putting the other through gaps, and no Sharks fan will soon forget the Maloney bust that saw Chad run under the posts to open the floodgates against the Cowboys at Allianz Stadium last September.

Origin halves combos will always take time to gel, no matter how good the individual players being picked. Picking both Sharks halves would end this problem and provide a huge advantage straight away.

Add to that the fact that the Origin side is expected to include club mates Fifita, Graham, and possibly Bird, and Laurie Daley’s men are provided with a range of ready-made club combos ready to exploit.

As far as form goes, Townsend is streaks ahead of both Pearce and Reynolds. The Sharks are on a run of four-straight victories, and Townsend has been at the front and centre of each of those wins.

That’s without mentioning the fact that he outplayed the far more lauded James Maloney for a big stretch of the 2016 Premiership winning season.

Plus he has, without a doubt, the greatest hair across all grades of rugby league.

Of course, that last statement was put forward with a degree of humour. However less humorous would be turning to the selection of Mitchell Pearce for the 47th time.

Related: Fancy playing coach? Pick your Origin team now!


  1. Moylan is not up to it even at the club level at the moment, and should not even be considered for SOO. Dudley will pick his love child Pearce and QLD will be laughing all the way to the trophy.

  2. Chad Townsend!😂😂😂😂😂

    Wow that’s a good one, he barley holds his own position at his own club. There’s a reason he was dropped to bench in that game in the finals, because he has nothing to offer that cronulla already get from Maloney, and it’s not stuff of legend how he came back and won a premiership, he shouldnt have been in the 7 jumper at all. If Nsw even consider Chad Townsend we will have already lost. Reynolds or Pearce are the only options, and when you said Townsend is in better form than PEARCE! Wow do you even watch the footy. And a premiership ring doesn’t mean zip, look at some of the hopeless players that have one.

    • A little harsh there holmesy don’t you think. I don’t think Townsend should play Origin either, but to say he barely holds his position at his own club is not true. He was struggling for form, so he was benched. That was a gamble that Flanagan took that had the potential to backfire massively. Instead Townsend came back better and lead his team, along with Maloney, to the premiership. Townsend does a job for Cronulla, and does it well. That doesn’t mean he should play origin, but to even suggest he is barely a first grader is just not true.

    • A bit rich to call Townsend laughable when you were pushing for Darcy Lussick to make origin. Even last week you were claiming that either Uate or Tafua should be in the team.

      As eels47 stated, Townsend does his job for the Sharks well. Kicks well, passes well, isn’t a defensive liability. That doesn’t make him an origin player but he’s at least solid.

      • The form Lussick was in last year warranted a selection at least in the emerging squad. And Uate and Taufua have been in amazing form better form that anything NSW have currently to offer on the wing. Yet your a Parra supporter what would you know.

        • are you serious Holmesy?
          Hows your manly form been of late?
          Pretty dismal – even most of your fellow supporters seem to have dropped.
          And BTW, I am pretty sure Milton doesn’t support the Eels.
          But that is your blindness coming through once again.

        • Last I checked Milton wasn’t a Parra supporter.

          As for your Manly boys, Lussick was playing good footy last year, but hardly representative material. He brought some aggression to the Manly pack, but was far from the best in the state. And he wasn’t in the emerging squad as he isn’t emerging. The whole point of that squad is for young guys who haven’t really had the chance to play much rep footy.

          But what would I know, I am just an Eels supporter hey? Here is a tip for you holmesy, stop making things personal. You got in an argument with ST47 (as did I not long before) and accused him of getting personal, yet you are constantly attacking others opinions based on who’s team they support, rather than the validity of said opinion.

          Keep it to footy mate, even if you are extremely biased (nothing wrong with that either), you generally make some good points on the game.

        • Manly have been poor, but certain individuals have been great. Uate and Taufua have been great its our halves that are letting us down. Dce is going missing every game since round 4 and green hasn’t been seen at manly.

        • Eels47 I’m happy to talk footy with you mate your a decent bloke. It’s Milton and Billy who always get up in my face about my opinion and it’s getting old. Billy can’t contain his anger and Milton is just a pest.

        • holmesy, I have never got angry with you, i only question your severely biased and delusional view of the maroon and white world.
          There are other colours out there you know – purple, blue, white, gold, cardinal, myrtle, sky blue, red, navy blue.

        • ok here goes – calling for Uate, Taufua, Trobjevic’s, DCE, Lussick to all be picked for origin.
          Holmesy, i don’t want to get into a slanging match with you and I seriously don’t to deride you personally, but just cos i don’t agree with you on a number of points, doesn’t mean i don’t respect your opinion at times.
          If you get seriously out of shape when someone questions your opinion, then i cant help that.

        • Trbojevic brothers should be certain everyone in the league world would agree, Lussick I only suggested last year not this year. Dce only if Jt is out. Taufua and uate have been in good form. That’s not my bias talking it’s common sense you the turbos, dce is Jt is out and consider the wingers.

        • The Trbojavic brothers aren’t even considered certainties on this site, let alone the “league world”. I would probably go with Tom on the wing, although Nathan Ross was mentioned last week, and I like the idea of him getting a shot too. I think Jake has too many in front of him at the moment, his time will come, but not this year.

          As for DCE, if JT is out then Morgan comes into the starting line up, and Milford offers more from the bench than DCE.

          Uate had his chance, and is a step backwards, not forwards and Taufua maybe deserves to be in the discussion, but only if there are injuries. I would pick Fergo or Dugan before him, and I have made it clear previously that I don’t think they are the best option either.

        • Yeah Holmsey, the boys are right, I’m not an Eels fan.

          If you want an example of you being biased, how about this. Manly aren’t in the eight at the moment. Out of their starting 13 this week, you have six of the players in origin teams or pushing for origin teams (not including Lussick on the bench). Out of the remaining seven players, three aren’t eligible to player origin. So you have more players playing origin than not playing origin. How is that not biased?

          Also you said that DCE is letting your team down. Yet last week you said he was the form half in the comp. How can that be?

    • agree with both the boys above – holmesy, that’s a bit rich even by your standards.
      I don’t think the guy has been dropped for poor form, merely benched on one occasion. For an unheralded and uncomplicated footballer, he has done a sterling job for his team, which, if you weren’t aware, won the title last year in convincing fashion and are once again among the front runners to do it in 2017.
      Townsend is doing his job very well. Should he be in Origin contention? Maybe not selected ahead of A. Reynolds or Pearce but he should at least be in the conversation.
      Who do you want? Korisau or Green would be my guess.

      • Ah Billy you stupid idiot the same argument from you each time shows how much you actually want to talk footy, why don’t you stop trying to make every article about you and me and just talk footy. I like Townsend I think he’s solid but his coach barley had enough confidence to play him in a gf.Townsend is good but not origin standard.

        • mate, I don’t make it about you and me, it just that you come up with some over the top suggestions that I don’t agree with and I say so.
          Also, I don’t resort to name calling either, I just question your comments.
          But what would I know, I am only an eels supporter who is realistic and generally unbiased in their comments.

        • If you hadn’t noticed, i am parochial about my team but not biased in my view on others.
          You say Flanno had little confidence to play him in the GF. If am not mistaken, there was never any question of Townsend playing the GF so I am not sure where you are getting your info.
          Yes he was hooked in the semi, but i don’t recall there ever being any suggestion of him not playing.
          If you read my comments unblinkered, you will note that i said he “should at least be in the conversation”, there will be others also that should be in the conversation – J Reynolds, Keary, Cleary, C Walker.
          I believe the point Dan is trying to make is that Townsend isn’t even in the conversation with the likes of who i mention above, not that he should be picked, rather just considered as an option.

        • Now I’m even more confused Holmsey. Above you claim that you’re not biased and dare people to name a time when you were biased. Then you state that being biased is a part of supporting a team.

    • Lusick ,Klem should be first picked, aggression intimidation and only $1300 bucks a punch, Darcy alone would deck every Qlder, there isn’t a maroon in the current side who could go it with Darcy, NSW wanna win BASH THE TOADS

  3. Great hair and Dan Nicholls blind love of the sharks aside; Townsend has been in pretty good form. This article though makes him seem like the GOAT.
    I think you need to peak outside of your bubble. He was lucky to be playing that grand final. If he didn’t get his confidence up from playing the cows on one leg and with an arm behind their backs I think it’s very likely he is either on the bench or not picked.

    If you picked him at least you wouldn’t have to worry about his defence. He’s one of the better defensive halves.

  4. If NSW pick Chad then a rule should be made forcing Qld to select DCE, the telecast should then be broadcast in black n white with no commentary just subtitles,

  5. Anyways back to the conversation surrounding nsw halves. Daley says he hasn’t made his mind up yet, but that is total bs. Maloney will be 6 and Pearce 7. Farah 9. He’s not a good coach Laurie and it’s a shame, he wants to be loyal like qld except he wants to win. First loz loyalty only works for queensland because most of the players they select are always performing. When they don’t they get dropped, eg. Myles, dce, Guerra ect.

    • And that is the problem that most NSW supporters have with Daley. He seems to have his team picked before a ball is kicked each year, rather than giving players the opportunity to earn the jersey. I have no idea with him having players in mind, but he seems to make his mind up to early. And I completely agree with the whole loyalty thing. It is easy to be loyal when you are winning. I hate hearing Daley say things like “He’s been there before and knows what it takes to play Origin”. He says that about guys like Farah, Pearce, Dugan etc. The problem is that, while they have been there before, they have been on losing teams, which contradicts his argument.

    • 100% right Holmsey. It is easy for QLD to be loyal when they have had the likes of Thurston, Cronk, Smith, Inglis, Slater etc to chose from. Even players with average club form like Myles and Thaiday have stood out in Origin. The big things is that QLD have had performing players in the critical positions and can afford to carry a slightly down player in other positions. NSW have not had this luxury. When the tide turns and NSW have a period of success, QLD will not be as loyal.

      I am not going to get into team list territory but IMO, Maloney should be one of the first picked. I know he is a veteran but Luke Lewis would still be in my team. A hard nosed professional, still playing better footy than most. These young exciting NSW players would get a lot of positives from being in camp with Lewis.

      • I love watching Lewis play. He is a great hole runner and runs good lines, he can leap with the best of them and gives kickers another option on attacking kicks (esp. chip kicks) and is a good defender. I don’t have him in my side, mainly due to the plethora of talent in the back row and his age, but would not be disappointed at all if he was named.

      • “Maloney should be one of the first picked. I know he is a veteran but Luke Lewis would still be in my team.”

        tommyknocker, you are right, Maloney should be the first picked on resent origin form and his influence within the team. Funny I have been thinking much the same as you about Luke Lewis. On current form he is about the best back rower running around for NSW. If we adopted QLD tactics and tradition Lewis would be playing for NSW for sure and NSW would not be the worse for it. As I have already named my team I won’t go back on it now. NSW are bringing new blood into the side and need to think long term but Lewis certainly would do the job.

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