17 reasons why New South Wales will win Origin 1

Tom Rock Columnist

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    The Blues will win Game 1 of the 2017 State of Origin series. That’s a fact. And here are 17 reasons why.

    1. James Tedesco – Speed. You can’t teach it. Sort of like Maths. Tedesco’s blistering pace makes him one of the most explosive ball runners in the NRL, and the obvious choice for the NSW number one jersey. His defensive positioning has been questionable at times, but with Queensland set to make minimal line breaks, the impact will be inconsequential.

    2. Jarryd Hayne – Too much talent and big game experience to leave out of the squad. While he’s had a slow start to the season, his form over the last month demands selection. Kick-off may need to be pushed out until around 9:30pm to accommodate a Hayne-heavy opening Gusalouge.

    3. Dylan Walker – A smokey. An Origin bolter. A hold-over from the previous regime. Call him what you will, but Walker has been one of the form centres in the competition in 2017 and deserves selection.

    4. Josh Dugan – Like Hayne, Dugan tends to save his best football for the representative stage. He was Australia’s best the other night before Russell Packer gave him a peck on the cheek, and was one of the Blues’ best last season. Strong defender. Even stronger ball runner. Closet trypanophobe.

    5. Blake Ferguson – I’m not a huge Ferguson fan. He lacks the ability to make even the simplest defensive read. But despite his football illiteracy, he’s big, fast, strong and experienced. That’s enough for Laurie.

    6. James Maloney – He’d be the first player I’d pick. Maloney was the Blues’ best last season. He straightens up the attack, has an impressive short kicking game, and is more resilient than the tread on George Christensen’s RMs. Even his defence has improved, with only 60 missed tackles through ten games.

    7. Mitchell Pearce – I wish there was a better option, I really do. But Pearce is the form halfback out of a slim list of applicants. As depressing as it sounds, he gives NSW the best chance to win. And doesn’t everybody deserve a 16th chance?

    Mitchell Pearce Sydney Roosters

    (AAP Image/Action Photographics, Grant Trouville)

    8. Andrew Fifita – The form prop in the competition. Outside of Jason Taumalolo, there is no one harder to stop with a full head of steam. Laurie may require him to wear head gear to minimise the possibility of brain explosions.

    9. Nathan Peats – I was tempted to go with Cameron McInness or Damien Cook, but Peats has the highest ceiling. If he’s the long-term successor to Robbie Farah, then let’s chuck him in there and see what he can do.

    10. David Klemmer – His form has been a little down this season, but the selectors are too scared to tell him. So he retains his spot as the NSW enforcer and will continue his ongoing battle with Sam Thaiday for the most third man ins. A very underrated statistic in the modern game.

    11. Boyd Cordner (c) – The robotic Roosters’ skipper looks all but certain to be handed the honour of captaining his state. And he’s well suited to the role. Cleaner than a preacher’s sheets, Cordner reminds me of high-quality vanilla ice cream: always delicious to eat, but perhaps lacking in variety. He will bring stability and consistency to one of the strongest forward packs NSW has rolled with in the last decade.

    12. Josh Jackson – Like Cordner, there aren’t too many strings to Jackson’s bow, but every arrow he unfurls hits the bullseye. Outside of Matt Gillett, Jackson is the strongest defensive second rower in the NRL, and his consistency of effort from minute one to minute 80 is a testament to his fitness and preparation. Won’t miss a tackle all night.

    13. Jake Trbojevic – The purist defender I’ve watched since Steven Menzies. Trbojevic exhibits textbook tackling technique, cutting down opposition ball runners like he’s wielding an M2. The defensive combination of Cordner, Jackson and Trbojevic will take the sting out of the Queensland attack during the early exchanges, and pave the way for Tyson Frizell and Wade Graham to have a significant impact off the bench.

    14. Shannon Boyd – A big, big man. Reminds me of one of those trolls out of The Hobbit, but with a better short passing game. Boyd gets the nod over Paul Vaughan based on his immense size and powerful running game. Tired Queensland defenders will not enjoy the sight of this jolly green giant lumbering onto the field. Just make sure you get him home before sunrise.

    15. Tyson Frizell – The pick of the forwards last series. While he might not rack up the SuperCoach points, he runs as hard as anyone in the competition.

    16. Wade Graham – Made for Origin. Graham’s rugged running style and fiercely competitive nature will give NSW incredible impact off the bench. The Cronulla forward will hound Johnathan Thurston from the moment he steps onto the pitch.

    17. Jack Bird – There aren’t too many positions that Bird can’t cover. Fullback, centre, five-eighth, second row. Think of him as a talented Kurt Gidley. Bird could probably take over the commentary if Ray Warren’s laryngitis flares up.

    Jack Bird of the Sharks

    (AAP Image/Paul Miller)

    And 17 Reasons Why Queensland can’t stop them
    All good things must come to an end, and Queensland’s time in the sun is up. Here are the 17 reasons why Queensland will start the series off with a loss:

    1. Billy Slater – Slater has played well in his return from injury, but that star-studded Storm side could make Justin Ryder look like an Origin fullback. Has Billy really been tested yet? We’re about to find out. NSW will use a KFC variety bucket of wrestling tactics to test out Slater’s loose labrum. Queensland would do well to bring alone a couple of spare slings.

    2. Valentine Holmes – Fresh off the news that Cronulla are willing to throw $1 million dollars a season at Josh Dugan, Holmes is rumoured to have a chronic case of the sads. Motivation may be an issue.

    3. Will Chambers – Always keen to get into a stink, particularly on the representative stage. With the referees now more inclined to use the sin bin, Chambers will likely find himself given a ten-minute break at some point during the match.

    4. Dane Gagai – All credit to Gagai for achieving the rare combination of playing for the Newcastle Knights and being selected for a representative side.

    5. Darius Boyd – Is it strange that the incumbent Queensland and Australian fullback gets pushed to the wing to accommodate a busted 33-year-old? Darius probably thinks so. With Greg Inglis unavailable to facilitate his four-point flops, Boyd will be rendered ineffectual on the wing.

    6. Johnathan Thurston – Despite requiring treatment for inhalation after excessive use of smoke and mirrors, Thurston is a certain starter for Game 1. Nursing a busted shoulder, the NSW edge forwards will target him early and often. Expect to see Wade Graham’s palm embossed on Thurston’s chest by night’s end.

    7. Cooper Cronk – With one eye on the Sydney property market and the other eye on the dwindling list of halfback vacancies, the lovesick number seven will have his mind on other things. Look for Cronk to arrive disorganised and ill-prepared, and then struggle to execute the Queensland game plan. Could be a liability.

    8. Nate Myles – His club form is down, his minutes have dropped, and his impact on a game of rugby league is barely noticeable. But rules are rules. Queensland selection policy mandates that if a player was in the team last series, and has not lost any limbs since the conclusion of that series, then he’s an automatic selection. Sounds archaic, but it seems to work.

    9. Cameron Smith – Still bitter over Cronk’s decision to break up the band and forge a solo career, Smith will ignore his halfback and funnel the majority of passes towards JT. With Queensland’s attack limited to one side of the field, they may struggle to post points.

    Cam

    (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

    10. Sam Thaiday – Not the same player he was a couple of years ago. Thaiday’s reputation is more powerful than his running games these days. Should be his last series.

    11. Josh Papalii – An Adam Gilchrist favourite. Papalii will bring a sense of honesty and integrity to the squad. His acceleration and precise hole running make him a danger on the edges, however he’s received a formal warning from Kevin Walters about turning himself in after committing foul play.

    12. Matt Gillett – Form player of the competition through ten rounds. He defence is punishing. Will be forced to carry the rest of the pack.

    13. Josh McGuire – Token niggler in the squad. McGuire will be tasked with stirring the pot as much as possible, with a particular focus on the likes of David Klemmer. If you see the Bulldogs forward bust out the Dale Steyne crazy eyes, then you know McGuire has done his job.

    14. Dylan Napa – The most exciting Fanta pants to enter the Origin cauldron since Brett Dallas. Although his entire reputation is based on a couple of big shots on Sam Burgess two years ago, you have to admit, they were pretty good tackles. Questionable stamina.

    15. Coen Hess – Looks like Ivan Drago, and plays like a young Shane Webcke. If you were picking a Queensland side based purely on form, he would be one of the first names mentioned. The Blues will become all too familiar with the name Coen Hess over the next decade. Will hopefully defect to the International Strongman Circuit.

    16. Jarrod Wallace – Has quietly enjoyed a strong start to the season for a patchy Titans side. With Matt Scott unavailable, the Maroons are in desperate need of big bodies, and Wallace fits the brief.

    17. Michael Morgan – Has struggled this season, particularly in the absence of Thurston, but his utility value and incumbency will ensure his selection. Expect him to be given minimal minutes and have limited impact.

    5th Tackle Option
    Here are five quick thoughts on the action from Round 10:

    1. After a week dominated by negative headlines, Round 10 was just what the doctor ordered. It was a feast of attacking rugby league. A massive total of 400 points were scored across the eight games, which is an average of 50 points per game. Great to watch, and much more interesting than talking about recreational drugs.

    2. Good call by Des Hasler to pull his players from the City versus Country clash. With the extra time off to prepare, the Dogs really turned up ready to play. Without it, Canterbury may have only stuck to their game plan for five minutes, rather than the ten-minute performance they put in on Thursday night.

    Josh Morris of the Canterbury Bulldogs

    (AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts)

    3. A Robbie Farah sighting! There’s no surer sign that Origin is just around the corner.

    4. That 80-minute performance sums up Penrith nicely. Atrocious defence, a general lack of organisation and composure, poor discipline, brilliant attacking football, the ability to score points from anywhere on the field, and limitless potential. The good news is the negatives can all be coached. With the right mentor, the Penrith Panthers could be anything.

    5. I’m not a Manly fan, but they were robbed on Saturday night. Brisbane scored as the direct result of two very suspect decisions, both of which should have resulted in penalties to the Sea Eagles. Watching the game unfold, I got that same sense of rage I often feel when watching Queensland receive favourable 50/50 calls in Origin.

    Tom Rock
    Tom Rock

    A fair-weather Newcastle Knights fan, Tom doesn’t leave anything on the field. He always gives 110% and never forgets to give full credit to the boys. But in a game of two halves, it’s important not to look too far ahead, so Tom’s just taking it one week at a time. Follow him on Twitter @_TomRock_.

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