Changes are inevitable. Whether it be through form, suspension or injury, change comes knocking sooner or later.
New South Wales made a stack of them, and it handed them their second series win in a decade and a half. Some say you shouldn’t mess with a winning formula, but what if you could improve it?
That’s why THIS is New South Wales’ must pick team ahead of State of Origin Game I.
1. James Tedesco (Origin games: 7)
It’s an obvious one, but he’s easily the best fullback the Blues have. He’s been here, done it before, the incumbent Kangaroos fullback and a premiership winner. Someone that genuinely worries Queensland.
2. Josh Addo-Carr (Origin games: 3)
‘The Fox’ was brilliant last series, scoring two tries in his three games, and looking dangerous with every touch. A big series from the Indigenous All Star could see him claim Valentine Holmes’ vacant left wing spot for Australia at season’s end.
3. Latrell Mitchell (Origin games: 3)
This one needs no explaining. He’s being talked about as the best player in the game right now, everything he’s touching is turning to gold. There’s not a single Queensland centre that could handle Mitchell’s explosive form right now. Will Chambers is sweating bullets.
4. Jesse Ramien (Origin games: 0)
People are saying this strong centre is in bad form, but that’s not exactly the case. He’s getting no ball on that right edge for Newcastle. He’s using his opportunities when he gets them, but they’re limited at best. He can defend, and someone that could turn nothing into something out wide for the Blues.
5. Blake Ferguson (Origin games: 7)
This would be quite the redemption story. Ferguson was dropped from Origin after a single match for drinking before a game. He returned for 2016 and 2017, but he just wasn’t ready for Origin football. In fact, in seven games on the wing for NSW, he failed to register a single try. Now, the reigning Dally M Winger of the Year and premiership winner is a changed man and a new player. His metres coming out of his own end are invaluable, and a true asset. If you were a Queensland half on the last tackle, who would you rather kick to – Tedesco, Addo-Carr, or Ferguson? An incredible back three.
6. Luke Keary (Origin games: 0)
This seems like a must. Keary’s form in the last two games of 2018 was phenomenal, and he has been just as if not more brilliant at points this year. Simply put, he’s ready for State of Origin football. He’s now played for Australia, he’s won two premierships, a Clive Churchill medal. He’ll be there.
7. Adam Reynolds (Origin games: 2)
Now hear me out here. Reynolds is playing career-best football, and he’s been here before. He wasn’t fantastic when he last played Origin in 2016, but he certainly wasn’t bad for New South Wales. He has matured as a footballer, he’s sitting in the top ten for Dally M points right now, second in the NRL for kick metres. Not to mention Luke Keary and Adam Reynolds are a premiership-winning halves combination. He can control the game, and Keary can play what he sees.
8. Paul Vaughan (Origin games: 3)
His name may not be up in lights, but he has been arguably the form prop of the competition and has already won an Origin series. His late footwork really troubles opposition forward packs and can use this series to become a real leader for his state.
9. Damien Cook (Origin games: 3)
This bloke is as safe as they come. He’s the most explosive hooker in the game, the Kangaroos’ hooker is second in try-assists this year as he proves 2018 wasn’t just a one-off. As fast as he is crafty, Cook can tear slow Queensland forwards apart late in a game, and has a great club combination with Adam Reynolds.
10. Dave Klemmer (Origin games: 12)
One of the most experienced forwards this side has, Klemmer has been a wonderful acquisition for Newcastle this season. Even if his form line was average, he’d still be one of the first men picked. Aggressive and a competitor, Klemmer is the necessary big body for the Blues and will lead from the front.
11. Boyd Cordner (c) (Origin games: 12)
The captain of not only his state but his country as well, Cordner runs a line as well as anyone in the competition. And with Keary on his inside and Latrell his outside, Cordner will be able to run shapes from clubland, knowing where the players about him are and here they’ll be. Can tackle all day.
12. Tyson Frizell (Origin games: 8)
Ever since he burst onto the scene in Game II in 2016, Frizell has looked every part an Origin player. That chase on Gagai was memorable, he doesn’t give up for a second, and that’s just how he plays. Tenacious as they come, he’ll do damage running off Reynolds’ hip.
13. Cameron Murray (Origin games: 0)
This kid is a freak. Some will be screaming that Jake Trbojevic should be starting at lock, but look at last year’s form in Origin, started off the bench with de Belin at 13, and once Jake hit the park he never left. Murray is the form lock of the competition, can play 80, rarely misses a tackle, but it’s his quick play the balls that have Freddy Fittler drooling. Those play the balls with Cook scooping it up should have every Queenslander on red alert. Once Murray plays Origin football, he’ll be there every year until the day he retires. The future.
14. Cody Walker (Origin games: 0)
Someone like a Jack Wighton or Clint Gutherson could cover more positions, and Fittler has indicated he doesn’t have room for Radley and Murray in the same 17, but Cody is in the rarest of form. The South Sydney five-eighth leads the competition for tries scored, fourth in try-assists and in linebreak-assists, inject him at the 60th minute and watch him exploit tired defenders.
15. Jake Trbojevic (Origin games: 6)
Jake isn’t an 80-minute player, that’s why you start him from the bench, get him onto the field at about the 20th minute, you can leave him out there for the rest of the contest. He can ball play, his tackling technique is perfect, can play anywhere in the pack.
16. Angus Crichton (Origin games: 3)
His form isn’t quite where it was at the Rabbitohs’ this time last year, but the Roosters have so many stars, you can’t blame him. He was solid off the bench for the Blues last year, and will certainly do a job on an edge. Has a former club combination with Adam Reynolds on the right edge, and can play centre if someone goes down injured.
17. Jordan McLean (Origin games: 0)
Tariq Sims may be unlucky to lose his spot, but New South Wales needs a specialist prop on the bench. Reagan Campbell-Gillard hasn’t been the same since he broke his jaw, and McLean, who has played international football for the Kangaroos, has really stepped up in the absence of Jason Taumalolo. Could be the glue for that middle third when Klemmer comes off the field.
New South Wales Best Line-Up
- James Tedesco
- Josh Addo-Carr
- Latrell Mitchell
- Jesse Ramien
- Blake Ferguson
- Luke Keary
- Mitchell Pearce
- Paul Vaughan
- Damien Cook
- Dave Klemmer
- Boyd Cordner (c)
- Tyson Frizell
- Cameron Murray
- Cody Walker
- Jake Trbojevic
- Angus Crichton
- Jordan McLean