With Origin less than a month away, I thought I’d name my NSW Blues side to take on Queensland on June 1st at ANZ Stadium.
Keep in mind, I would’ve awarded Tedesco and Morris with spots on the wing, but unfortunately injuries put an end to their Origin I hopes.
- Josh Dugan — St. George-Illawarra Dragons
Earlier in his career, Dugan was seen as a contingency option at the back. Filling in for an injured Jarryd Hayne, now Duges is very much an incumbent for the Blues. He possesses the size, speed and kick returns that Daley loves to see in his fullback. He was the very best out of an under-performing Blues team last year, setting up one of the greatest Origin tries in history. Very hard to stop at the line, the Dragons fullback is in his prime and has the big game experience to secure his spot.
2. Blake Ferguson — Sydney Roosters
After a few strong showings, including an exceptional Test performance against New Zealand, Fergalicious is more than ready to rejoin the Origin arena. Terrific under the high ball and solid in defence, Blake is a fitting choice to play outside of former teammate Michael Jennings.
3. Michael Jennings — Parramatta Eels
Time and time again, centres have failed to poach Jennings Origin jumper. After years of experience in the rep arena and a maiden NRL premiership with the Sydney Roosters, Jennings have definitely become an incumbent for his state. His powerful attack at the line has been proven on a number of occasions this year, finely settling into his new role at Parramatta. He has contributed heavily to NSW over his Origin career and I don’t see Daley pulling the plug on him at the moment. A lock.
4. Josh Morris — Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs
The same case for Jennings, many hungrier and younger centres are breathing down Morris’ neck for his state spot but Josh’s defensive capabilities are well documented, making a crucial try-saving tackle on Inglis in 2014, Morris is perhaps the best fit candidate to shut down the Rabbitohs skipper, who will certainly improve at this year’s Origin series.
5. Josh Mansour — Penrith Panthers
Mansour has developed into one of the most reliable finishers in the NRL. Fearless in both attack and defence, Mansour fits the mould of a Blues player. He also averages the most metres per game for a winger.
6. Lachlan Coote — North Queensland Cowboys
Everyone is accustomed to Coote’s wonderful kicking ability. The man acts like a second 5/8 from the back. I and most others agree that getting Lachlan Coote into a maiden NSW jersey is definitely the right thing to do. After failing to find a concrete halves combination, Coote’s play under pressure and steering a team in attack could become a mainstay for the Blues. He’s proven his big game experience after winning the Cowboys first ever premiership.
7. Mitchell Pearce — Sydney Roosters
I know it’s too soon to be thinking about a Pearce recall, but do we really have a choice? Maloney is in great form, but leads the competition in missed tackles, both from this year and last. Chad Townsend is a class player but needs more time. Hodkinson is one option, but he narrowly misses out in this selection. Since returning from a lengthy suspension, Pearce immediately brought confidence and flair to an ailing young Roosters outfit, giving them direction. Perhaps this newfound confidence could continue through the Origin season? We shall wait and see.
8. Aaron Woods — West Tigers
One of the hardest working forwards in the game. Aaron Woods capped off a brilliant 2015 with only a single regular season try, but its his consistency in getting a struggling Tigers pack in perfect position to strike. Since winning the 2014 Origin series, Woods is an incumbent and I don’t see him getting snubbed any time soon.
9. Robbie Farah — West Tigers
Provides spark in their attack, Daley will most likely go to his regular for the hooking role. Creative, great kicking game and usually impressive in defense. Farah’s experience is valued and he’ll keep on kicking in this series.
10. James Tamou — North Queensland Cowboys
One of the form props of the competition, the premiership winning forward has an offload or two in him and is fearless when taking on the line. Contract negotiations won’t hover over this bloke, he’s playing quality footy.
11. Greg Bird — Gold Coast Titans
It’s been a while since we last saw Bird in a rep jersey, but the time has come once again. After missing out on the entire 2015 Origin series, the Titans enforcer is a lock (excuse the pun) for this year’s series. He brings a wealth of experience and has adopted a senior role over the year amongst his NSW peers.
12. Beau Scott — Parramatta Eels
Probably the most obvious admission in the forward pack here. Scott has terrorized a plethora of players over the span of his career and oh does he shine in the Origin arena. Tailor-made for big game atmospheres, Scott is arguably the best defensive back-rower in the world. After a tremendous 2014 season that saw him take out the Dally M Second-Rower of the Year, he was quiet and injured for most of 2015. But after signing a new deal which sent him to Parramatta, the ultimate enforcer has hit another peak, taking his game to another level. Ages like a fine wine, it’s a terrible shame he wasn’t included in Meninga’s Roos side this year.
13. Paul Gallen — Cronulla Sharks
If Beau Scott ages like a fine wine, then Gallen is a ’47 Cheval Blanc. Turning 35 this year, Gallen could keep pushing on for another year or two, but this is his last hoorah in the Origin arena and with the form that he’s in you’d be mad to spoil his going-away party by snubbing him. Great runner.
14. Tyson Frizell — St. George-Illawarra Dragons
He has all the makings of a true Origin player: strength, speed and heart. The St. George-Illawarra forward has done wonders for his side over the past couple of years. With 2015 signalling a turning point in his first grade career. Earning an 18th man spot in the Blues opener at ANZ Stadium. Unfortunately he didn’t get to play, but I’m sure this is finally the year Loz decides to unleash the beast.
15. Boyd Cordner — Sydney Roosters
Since returning from injury in round 8, Cordner has been in exceptional form. A string of quality performances may have just secured his spot for the Blues.
16. Wade Graham — Cronulla Sharks
Origin has eluded Graham his whole career, but no longer says I. His ball-playing skills and kicking game are second-to-none for a second rower. The heir to Gallen’s throne at Cronulla, Graham possesses on field maturity way beyond his years.
17. Jack Bird — Cronulla Sharks
Jack Bird possesses the ability to shine in any position he’s utilised in. It’s that kind of versatility that’s much needed for this year’s series. This is the perfect time to be blooding a youngster of his calibre. Expect Birdy to be named as a bolter.