NSW State of Origin 2012 team announced; expert reaction
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Does Brett Stewart deserve to break into the NSW Blues team? (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)
After weeks of conjecture and speculation, the New South Wales Blues State of Origin team for game one has officially been announced. The squad selected is nowhere near full strength, and vastly different to the side that would have been pencilled in six weeks ago.
Injuries, suspensions and poor form have ensured that Ricky Stuart and the Blues selectors would have had a torrid time choosing the Blues team for Origin One at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne on May 23th.
The Blues are looking to halt the Queensland Maroons six-year dominance, and we cast a closer eye over those selected to represent the sky blue jumper.
The Snake has an uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time, and is therefore a prolific try scorer.
Meanwhile, in defence, his positioning is excellent, and he’s safe under the high ball.
While he hasn’t been 100 percent healthy this season, and didn’t have a great game against Brisbane on Friday night, Stewart contains the x-factor qualities that New South Wales will require if they want to cause a boil over.
No one likes losing and Parramatta have been doing plenty of that. It seems it’s finally started to affect Hayne, who is missing tackles with alarming regularity, and lacks his usual potency in attack.
No one doubts his class, but the bottom line is that Hayne is not in great form, and if he carries that across to Origin, Queensland will make him, and the Blues, pay.
Having said all that, Hayne is a consistently high performer at Origin level and deserves the loyalty showed towards him.
Jennings selection is a clear indication of the dire position the Blues find themselves in.
No one doubts his talent, but when you need to pick a player that was dropped to the NSW Cup, with questions remaining about his discipline off the field, and who is also carrying a shoulder injury, it’s safe to say that New South Wales have some issues.
Out of form, bad attitude and injured? Sounds like a recipe for disaster.
A timely hat-trick against Parramatta sealed Morris’ selection in the centres.
While equally as talented as his twin brother, he’s been left somewhat in Brett’s shadow for the last couple seasons.
The 2012 Origin series provides the opportunity to showcase his class and speed, and provided he can settle his nerves, he’s a player Queensland will need to be wary of.
The Newcastle winger hasn’t been playing up to the high standards he set himself after last season’s break-out year.
But his form is more symptomatic of a spluttering Knights attack rather than Uate’s ability.
He’ll be looking to receive some quality ball and build on his impressive Origin debut series.
The Sharks five-eight has forced coach Ricky Stuart’s hand. Quite simply, his play has demanded that he be picked.
Carney oozes talent and class, and while he’ll be making his Origin debut, the pressure cooker environment of State of Origin is probably nothing compared to what he’s experienced via media scrutiny during his colourful career.
I think he’ll shine on rugby league’s biggest stage.
While Pearce has had his detractors, and none so more than me, he has earned the number 7 jersey this year.
While he hasn’t dominated, he’s been very solid. With Carney outside him, he won’t be asked to do anything he isn’t capable of.
His defence is brilliant, but in attack, he needs to threaten the line, ensure his kicking game is spot-on, and lead his troops around the park.
The Dragons prop had a forgettable Origin debut last year, and will be looking to make amends this series. He’s been in good form, but his strong defence and work rate will both be tested by the Maroons pack.
He’ll be asked to continue whatever momentum the New South Wales front rowers have after 20 minutes.
After a slow start to the year, and the now infamous ‘ambush’ on NRL on Fox, Farah would have been at long odds to win the New South Wales number 9 jersey.
But all credit to the Tigers hooker, who has improved each week. His short kicking game is exceptional, and his selection will provide the Blues with additional options in attack.
However, Farah’s defence will be tested early and often by Queensland.
Deservingly selected as captain, Gallen will provide plenty of inspiration and plenty of metres.
Whether he starts at lock or prop matters little, as he approaches the game the same way regardless of the number on his jersey. Book him in now for 100-plus metres and 30-plus tackles. He’s a machine.
Stewart’s unique skill-set, with his ability to be an extra ball-handling option in attack, will be a cornerstone of the Blues attack.
He also runs hard, and is capable of bruising defence. Stewart is a crucial part of NSW’s plans, and he’ll need to bring all of his talent to Melbourne if the Blues are any chance of beating Queensland.
Another Blues player under a slight injury cloud, Lewis would be hard to leave out of the team regardless.
His leadership, versatility and experience will all be invaluable, and he will be asked to do whatever the Blues require on the night. And then do it. A much underrated superstar.
A bolter for the Kangaroos a month ago, after pledging his allegiance to Australia, Tamou’s main goal was always to play State of Origin football.
The big, strong forward now gets his chance. The Maroons will be sure to test him a lot more than the Kiwis, with the much anticipated fireworks never actually materialising in the Test match.
Despite the Titans woes, one of Ricky Stuart’s favourites was always going to be selected for the Blues.
Tough, talented and made for this brand of football, I expect Bird to enjoy playing at a higher level, free from the dramas and losses that have accompanied the Gold Coast this season.
There is no question that Williams’ impact on a game can be influential. But it’s a gamble of gigantic proportions to pick someone who has had a long lay-off from playing first grade football.
They say the step-up from a club game for an Origin rookie can be overwhelming, so picking a debutant who hasn’t played for over two months is a big risk to take.
Needless to say, I think match fitness may be an issue.
Who? Needless to say, he’s a real bolter. He has a lot skill and versatility in his game, but he’s not even a regular first grader for Manly.
And considering Farah, the halves, and most of the back row are all 80 minute players, what exactly will Buhrer’s role be?
Creagh has played a lot of Origin football, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was a little surprised that he got the call-up.
An athletic forward who gets through a lot of work, and loves running out wide, Creagh has yet to establish himself in the cauldron of Origin football, and I thought he would be overlooked.
He played a bit of prop last year, so perhaps the selectors like the flexibility he provides.
Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.
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