It’s that time of the year when State of Origin predicted team lists begin to run rampant. Today, I’ll be running the rue over which players I think it will take New South Wales to end the 12 years of dominance they have endured at the hands of the Queensland Maroons.
D-Day should have arrived at least a half-decade ago but with the arrival of Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns to head the coaching staff, it looks like a max player exodus is finally on the cards as New South Wales are on the verge of blooding as many as 10 fresh faces come Game I on June 6.
Here’s the side through 1-17 in which I believe stand the best chance to end Queensland’s 12-year reign of dominance in the State of Origin arena.
- James Tedesco (Sydney Roosters)
Has been an underwhelming signing for his new club thus far but he remains New South Wales’ best option at fullback.
- Josh Addo-Carr (Melbourne Storm)
The best winger New South Wales has to offer.
- Euan Aitken (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
Has already outplayed Queensland’s centre combination Greg Inglis and Will Chambers multiple times this season, who’s to say he won’t be able to do it again?
- Latrell Mitchell (Sydney Roosters)
His defence at times is a bit of a worry but could prove to be the X-Factor on New South Wales’ right edge. Has been one of the Roosters’ best over the past 12 months.
- Clinton Gutherson (Parramatta Eels)
Having only returned from a nasty ACL injury last month, Gutherson is yet to hit the form that saw him touted a future Origin player in 2017. Nonetheless, New South Wales must move on from the flailing Josh Dugan and Blake Ferguson combination.
- Blake Green (New Zealand Warriors)
The biggest issue in having Blake Green in the New South Wales side will be the tenuous travel he’ll have to endure. A must have, he’ll be the perfect foil for whichever halfback New South Wales end up deciding upon.
- Nathan Cleary (Penrith Panthers)
May be injured but he must be rushed back. Is the undisputed future of this Blues side while the likes of James Maloney, Adam Reynolds and Luke Brooks are much too inconsistent for the State of Origin arena.
- Paul Vaughn (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
Should have been there last year.
- Damien Cook (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Will cut the ageing Queensland forward pack to threads with his smart running game from dummy-half.
- Ryan James (Gold Coast Titans)
As long as he’s not selected in the back row… Ryan James is the perfect option to start alongside Paul Vaughn in the front row.
- Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters)
Will be the most experienced player in the side. Captain.
- Wade Graham (Cronulla Sharks)
Not in the best form at the minute but will provide a formidable back row alongside Cordner. His ball playing and kicking game will come in handy.
- Jack De Belin (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
The first player picked. Born for State of Origin football. Will cap off a phenomenal rise for de Belin who was once regarded a fringe first grader circa 2015.
- Cody Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Will provide the spark from the bench in a 15-20-minute stint. Also provides injury cover for the outside backs.
- Dale Finucane (Melbourne Storm)
Will provide Jack De Belin with a 25-minute breather.
- Jake Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
Has been in poor form but remains a better option than Aaron Woods and David Klemmer in the front row rotation.
- Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Penrith Panthers)
Much like Jack de Belin, the man they call ‘RCG’ has hit a meteoric rise over the past 18-mnths as he’s finally hit his full potential.
- Tyson Frizell (St. George Illawarra Dragons)
Alongside teammate Tariq Sims, very hard not to find a spot for Frizell in the side. Will be first forward in should Graham or Trbojevic underperform in Game I.
- Tom Trbojevic (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles)
Has been quite poor over the opening two months of football but with everything going on in Brookvale; should New South Wales call upon his services, he may very well hit some form once that weight has been taken from his shoulders.
- Angus Crichton (South Sydney Rabbitohs)
Has underperformed so far this season but should he hit the heights he did in 2017, will be an enticing option for coach Brad Fittler.
- Tyrone Peachey (Penrith Panthers)
Another utility option on the bench for the Blues.