Five Kiwis who are built for Origin
Forget Tamou, Kasiano and Te’o. If Origin wants what New Zealand can offer, lets add some real steel and pick the very best there is.
Notwithstanding they may have played for other countries already, but what does that really mean in the fluid world of rugby league where rules are changed on a yearly basis and eligibility is stepped on more times than if it was under Adam MacDougall at a play-the-ball?
If Sticky and Big Mal want to get serious about their selections from the Shakey Isles, and really kill off international footy, then they have to get creative. Here’s five players they should have picked for Origin, who have the talent and ability to dominate the state-vs-state cauldron, not just play bit-roles.
Sure, some of them wouldn’t do it because they are actually proud Kiwis, but let’s send round Tommy Raudonikis and Trevor Gillmeister to their houses with a brown paper bag and a large megaphone, and see them fold.
1 Benji Marshall
He may be a very proud Kiwi from Whakatane. But he moved to the Gold Coast at 16 and excelled at Keebra Park Secondary High School. From there he played for the Australian Schoolboys and made his way to the Wests Tigers, and the rest is history.
Sure his links to the sunshine state might be somewhat tenuous, but when did that stop someone being picked in a maroon jersey? (Greg and Israel, I’m talking to you). The fleet-footed and fancy-free Benji would be a revelation in Origin with his trademark step and eye-catching ball skills.
2 Sonny Bill Williams
Sure he plays union now, and before that played for the Kiwis. All is forgiven. The king of the shoulder charge knows deep down his true home is in rugby league and that Origin is Mecca for leaguies. SBW moved to Sydney as a teenager and spent six years with the Dogs – surely that makes him a Blue.
He’s been drunk at the Clovelly and featured in the Daily Terror, both of which are rites of passage for any wannabe New South Welshman. With his his ability to bust tackles, smash blokes and offload with both hands tied behind his back, Williams is tailor-made to wear a NSW jersey.
3 Kieran Foran
This kid has already won a comp and played Test footy. Forget that he moved to Sydney’s North Shore as a child, he played for the Australian Schoolboys and his junior footy with the North Sydney Bears. The Bears! Anyone who has worn the famous red, black and white these days is as Sydney as Bob Carr, and should be allowed to play Origin.
He may be only 1.8 metres tall and 87 kg but he plays like he is twice the size. Foran loves to put a hit on and also to be smashed himself as he takes the ball to the line, definitely a prerequisite for Origin. A pure competitor, this 21-year-old can play three positions and Foran would just eat Origin up with a spoon.
4 Issac Luke
Tough? Check. Loves the rough stuff? Yes. Loves putting his head in places most people wouldn’t dream of? Yes. Grub? Yes. This Taranki tyro would be up there with Benny Elias and Steve Walters as a classic Origin hooker.
Like Foran he is pretty small, but plays like he is invincible, running through walls and throwing himself at much bigger objects. He’s lived in Sydney for the past six years or more as a Rabbitoh, surely that qualifies him for Origin. Also he has the cannonball repertoire to put his opposite number, Cameron Smith, off his game. A double blessing.
5 Manu Vatuvei
The big man is perfect for Origin – he scores tries, drops bombs and one moment is brilliant and the next moment horrific. Awesome! Who needs Fijians like Uate when we have Manu to excite and dismay us.
No player is as hot and cold as Vatuvei (not through lack of trying, Krisnan Inu) and that’s what Origin needs, the agony and the ecstacy. Manu has been picked for the All Star team on the Gold Coast a few times, so let’s make him a honorary canetoad. Trust me, if the choice was between Manu, Yow Yee and Boyd, you’d pick the Tongan tornado every time.
That’s it so, let the selections (and the death of Test footy) begin.