No Robbie Farah, Mitchell Pearce, Dylan Walker, David Klemmer or Shannon Boyd in my NSW team for State of Origin I. Nathan Peats, Matt Moylan, Jarryd Hayne, Paul Vaughan and Jake Trbojevic all in.
Blues coach Laurie Daley should stick with the winning halves pairing from Origin III last year – Moylan and James Maloney.
Halfback Pearce has been playing well for Sydney Roosters this season, but he always has been a good club player. It’s at Origin level that he hasn’t been able to make an impact and he has had plenty of chances.
Moylan is still playing fullback for Penrith, but he spends so much time in the front line in attack that he may as well be at five-eighth.
The Panthers haven’t had a great season so far, but Moylan is a brilliant player. There were good signs from him in the second half against the Warriors last weekend and surrounded by class players in the NSW side he would have no trouble finding top gear.
Moylan would also be cover for fullback James Tedesco, while Jack Bird would provide the utility value from the bench.
Farah’s days as Blues hooker should have been over before now. Plenty of people raved about his performance for South Sydney against Wests Tigers last weekend, but the Tigers may as well not have turned up they were so bad.
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The form showed by Peats in Gold Coast’s win over Melbourne in a much better game was superior. He’s ready to go at Origin level. So too are Vaughan and Trbojevic.
It would be a mistake to keep St George Illawarra prop Vaughan waiting. He’s playing better than his former teammate Boyd is at Canberra and has got so much going for him.
He’s a big body, he can break the line, he’s got an offload, he can score tries and he’ll be able to play for 50-something minutes. He’s irresistible. I’d even start him.
Trbojevic is a classic defender in the centre of the field. He breaks blokes in half. And he can play big minutes if necessary.
Canterbury prop Klemmer makes a lot of metres, but there’s not a lot else to his game at the moment and Vaughan and Trbojevic can each do something with the ball. So, too, can Andrew Fifita.
It’s hard to leave Klemmer out, but with Aaron Woods set to make an early comeback from injury for the Tigers this weekend and then move on to the NSW side, someone has to go to fit both Vaughan and Trbojevic in.
You simply must have Hayne in the side somewhere. NSW have only won one series in the 11 years and Hayne had a huge influence on that success. Put him at centre this time around.
Tom Trbojevic would have been on the wing for sure had he not been hurt playing for Manly last weekend.
It would be easy to put Hayne there and Walker in the centres, but Brett Morris has never let a representative side down on the wing. Bring him back.
My NSW team
James Tedesco, Brett Morris, Jarryd Hayne, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Matt Moylan, James Maloney, Aaron Woods, Nathan Peats, Paul Vaughan, Boyd Cordner (c), Josh Jackson, Tyson Frizell. Interchange: Jack Bird, Wade Graham, Jake Trbojevic, Andrew Fifita.