The form Blues team (that won’t be picked for Origin 1)

Stuart Thomas Columnist

By Stuart Thomas, Stuart Thomas is a Roar Expert

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    As sure as day turns to night, the New South Wales State of Origin team will take to Suncorp Stadium for Game 1 of the 2017 series with a team selected on loyalty and incumbency, rather than form or an eye to the future.

    NSW need to regenerate, go with youth and play a more expansive game.

    There are numerous incumbents who are so far off the pace that hearing their names read out in a few weeks will have me shaking my head once again.

    The most obvious sign of a continuation of grey-beard thinking would be the selections of James Tamou and Aaron Woods.

    Wood’s inability to hit and stick and his penchant for third-man in flops aren’t the qualities I want in a front rower. If he is made captain, we should all give up.

    Tamou is inconsistent and hasn’t provided the boost to the Panthers forward power that they anticipated. He was lauded in his time at the Cowboys, but playing in such a powerful team can do that, and his Origin form has never impressed. His running metres are actually down on 2016 figures. Averaging 109 metres per game at this stage of the year probably isn’t the impact for which the Panthers were hoping.

    There are other options if the selectors show some character and invest in the future.

    Last year I called for the inclusion of Paul Vaughan and now, after his wonderful start to the season with the Dragons, others have jumped on board. 152 metres per week belittles Tamou’s efforts.

    It would have been nice if Vaughan had a taste of the action in 2016, preparing him for this upcoming series.

    Joey Leilua will be in the same position. The concerns over ball security and defence have held him back from selection, yet other players’ attributes weren’t defining factors that denied them selection.

    Two such examples would be Blake Fergusons selection on the wing for Game 1 last year, despite relatively poor form, and the persistence with Josh Morris for Games 1 and 2 (he did eventually miss Game 2 with injury).

    Ferguson offers little of the spark in attack he did when at the Raiders and Morris has been hobbling around for three years. Neither deserved their spot, with Morris seemingly being selected based on some excellent defensive efforts in the past on Greg Inglis.

    The selectors’ reluctance to use James Tedesco, Wade Graham and Tyson Frizell from the outset showed a lack of vision. The spark the Blues had in Game 3 was a potential forewarning for the Queenslanders.

    Sure, it was a dead rubber, yet the Maroons led until late and looked as determined as ever.

    Bryce Cartwright was another young player who deserved a run and would be perfectly primed for the 2017 series if he received a taste of Origin last year.

    Likewise Tom Trbojevic, who is stamped with the class, speed and power so lacking in the Blues backline over the last five years.

    The halves throw up a yearly headache for the selectors and in a way they are on a hiding to nothing. Each year, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston outthink, outclass and eventually outplay their counterparts.

    Mitchell Pearce has bounced back into some good form after his Origin career had seemingly gone to the dogs, but selecting him is not a proactive step. The mental scarring he brings, along with a kicking game that has never stood the test of Origin football are good enough reasons to keep him out of the team.

    Matt Moylan of the Blues tries to avoid a tackle by Dane Gagai of the Maroons

    Matt Moylan looks to be the player everyone hoped he would be and perhaps following the astute logic of Phil Gould would be prudent in helping to shape him into a long-serving Blue. Play Moylan at five-eighth and Adam Reynolds at 7.

    The South Sydney halfback has the best short kicking game in the NRL and New South Wales needs to strike a consistent balance within the halves. That balance in the future will include Nathan Cleary, just not quite yet. 18th man is a good spot for him right now.

    Moylan and Reynolds didn’t play together last year, with Moylan only recalled to the side for Game 3 after Reynolds withdrew with injury. James Maloney was the constant presence in the halves and gives his all for the team, however the crystal ball clearly shows that it will be Moylan at five-eighth in the short-term, with Reynolds his foil.

    Robbie Farah and his tumultuous departure from the Tigers has been done to death. Sadly for him, his football has suffered and his role off the South Sydney bench will not strengthen his claims for selection.

    There is a pause, hesitation and selfishness in his work around the ruck. A good dummy half is measured by their service and Farah seems to provide his first receiver with the ball only after having a little look for any potential openings for himself.

    Perhaps this trend has developed as a byproduct of the saga that was his last few years at the Tigers, as Farah seemingly became more focused on himself than the team.

    From last year’s series, the following names need to be jettisoned: Blake Ferguson, Michael Jennings, Josh Morris, Dylan Walker, Josh Mansour, James Maloney, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah, James Tamou. Obviously Paul Gallen has stepped aside and Greg Bird is unavailable.

    While this might look like wholesale changes, ten players keep their spots.

    Worth persisting with: Matt Moylan, James Tedesco, Josh Dugan, Adam Reynolds, Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson, Wade Graham, Tyson Frizell, David Klemmer and Andrew Fifita.

    Andrew Fifita is tackled

    Throw into the mix a group of promising young stars, some who are ready and some who will be next time around, and the squad looks rejuvenated, young, fast and powerful.

    Paul Vaughan, Tom Trbojevic, Jake Trbojevic, Bryce Cartwright, Joey Leilua, Latrell Mitchell, Mitchell Barnett, Damien Cook, Nathan Cleary, Blake Green, Dale Finucane and Josh Addo-Carr are in form, and while one or two of them might raise an eyebrow, they are the players in contention if NSW pick a team based on that criteria.

    The Origin 1 team would therefore look something like this:

    1. James Tedesco
    2. Josh Addo-Carr
    3. Joey Leilua
    4. Josh Dugan
    5. Tom Trbojevic
    6. Matt Moylan
    7. Adam Reynolds
    8. Andrew Fifita
    9. Damien Cook
    10. David Klemmer
    11. Josh Jackson
    12. Boyd Cordner
    13. Wade Graham
    14. Tyson Frizell
    15. Paul Vaughn
    16. Dale Finucane
    17. Bryce Cartwright
    18. Nathan Cleary

    Close to selection
    19. Mitchell Barnett
    20. Latrell Mitchell
    21. Jake Trbojevic
    22. Blake Green
    23. Jack Bird

    They won’t pick this team. However, if they did, it is one with which I would much rather lose to the Queenslanders, than a team of veterans close to calling time on their careers.

    They might even win, but if not, it would be a loss in the full knowledge that their undoubted talent will see them peak in State of Origin series to come.

    Stuart Thomas
    Stuart Thomas

    Stuart Thomas is a sports writer and educator who made the jump from Roar Guru to Expert in 2017. An ex-trainee professional golfer, his sporting passions are broad with particular interests in football, AFL and rugby league. His love of sport is only matched by his passion for gardening and self-sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @stuartthomas72.

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    The Crowd Says (147)

    • April 12th 2017 @ 3:11am
      Matt Jones said | April 12th 2017 @ 3:11am | ! Report

      there is a reason why selectors (especially in QLD and Australia) go back to certain players. Class is permanent, form is temporary

      Blake Green – please stop

    • April 12th 2017 @ 4:11am
      The spectator said | April 12th 2017 @ 4:11am | ! Report

      with a losing side form is important just not the be all and end all answer to selecting, a team of champions dosnt make a champion team. Reagan Campbell-Gillard imo is tailor made starting Prop for NSW, Vaughn needs to in the 17 as he covers prop and second row, his hunger alone could change the game. Dropping Malony is madness,
      1 Tedesco ( Turbo)
      2 Turbo
      3 Walker
      4 Bj Leilua
      5 Radradra
      6 W Graham ( J Bird )
      7 Malony ( Reynolds )
      8 Campbell-Gillard
      9 Pearce ( Wallace )
      10 Woods (C)
      11 Cordner
      12 Frizell
      13 J Trbojevic
      14 J Bird ( Frizell )
      15 Vaughn
      16 Faffita
      17 Peachey

      bring it on !!

      • April 12th 2017 @ 4:46am
        Matt Jones said | April 12th 2017 @ 4:46am | ! Report

        thank heavens you are not a selector

        • Columnist

          April 12th 2017 @ 6:49am
          Stuart Thomas said | April 12th 2017 @ 6:49am | ! Report

          Where has he gone wrong with this team Matt? Throw yours up. Pearce and Woods aside, a lot of positive selections there.

          • Roar Guru

            April 12th 2017 @ 7:37am
            Magnus M. Østergaard said | April 12th 2017 @ 7:37am | ! Report

            Wade Graham as five eighth would be mine. Radradra picked despite not being allowed to play is surely madness

          • April 12th 2017 @ 8:16am
            Alex L said | April 12th 2017 @ 8:16am | ! Report

            RCG in any rep team is a bad joke. Wade Graham and Mitchell Pearce both picked chronically out of position. Radradra isn’t eligible. Bird and Peachey on the bench is 2 utilities. Just on a cursory glance anyone with a brain can spot at least five errors which in 17 selections is pretty bad.

          • April 12th 2017 @ 8:22am
            LachyP said | April 12th 2017 @ 8:22am | ! Report

            Graham isn’t a 5/8, Maloney isn’t a halfback, Pearce isn’t a hooker, Campbel-Gillard isn’t close to the top 2 props in NSW, 2 bench backs is a waste of the HUGE forward advantage NSW have, Dylan Walker isn’t the bext centre and for me, whilst I like Jake Turbo and think he will definitely be an origin player soon I think that Merrin is still a better option at lock. Oh and a few of you can’t spell, it is Fifita.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 12th 2017 @ 9:08am
              Squidward said | April 12th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

              Maloney did play 7 in the game 3 win last year though

              And yes. Not sure how ppl keep spelling Fafita or other after all these years. Ill cop too many Rs in Farah.
              Or worse ppl still calling him Jackson Bird

              • April 12th 2017 @ 10:18am
                The spectator said | April 12th 2017 @ 10:18am | ! Report

                Theres a reason why everyone in my side could miss out or gain selection, id like that side with my game plan, any other game plans out there or pass pass run !

              • April 13th 2017 @ 12:30pm
                The spectator said | April 13th 2017 @ 12:30pm | ! Report

                Thought as much!

    • April 12th 2017 @ 4:17am
      PatchMan said | April 12th 2017 @ 4:17am | ! Report

      Your interchange bench is a little bit thin’.
      Jack De Belin should be on the bench too’..& i like the back line! The 9′ Miciness has been playing well too’ so he can be in contention in the hlfs too! There’s even talk about Aitkin the Dragon’s Cntr’..He’s deceptively Strong & fast’ & Al2ays beats first man!.. so he could easily handle Cntr or wing?

      • April 12th 2017 @ 4:47am
        Matt Jones said | April 12th 2017 @ 4:47am | ! Report

        great, select players on the back of 5 good games

      • Columnist

        April 12th 2017 @ 6:52am
        Stuart Thomas said | April 12th 2017 @ 6:52am | ! Report

        Good thoughts Patchman. The hooking spot is a challenge. De Bellin is killing it, not sure if I could squeeze him in, Aitken should play origin one day as well. Looking forward to seeing Cook live this week. Have a close look I think.

    • April 12th 2017 @ 4:58am
      Kerry said | April 12th 2017 @ 4:58am | ! Report

      Have to include the Trbojevic brothers and the Reynolds brothers.

      • April 12th 2017 @ 9:26am
        danwain said | April 12th 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        The Reynolds brothers?

        • Roar Guru

          April 12th 2017 @ 10:38am
          Epiquin said | April 12th 2017 @ 10:38am | ! Report

          Yep. We need to include the Walker brothers too. Especially since Queensland will pick the Boyd brothers.

          • Columnist

            April 12th 2017 @ 12:43pm
            Stuart Thomas said | April 12th 2017 @ 12:43pm | ! Report

            Can we throw in Tiger and have the Woods brothers. Tiger would be just as handy, especially in bonding sessions.

            • April 12th 2017 @ 1:45pm
              Mango Jack said | April 12th 2017 @ 1:45pm | ! Report


              Doobie bothers could play, I hear. Maybe not rugby league though

              • April 12th 2017 @ 6:47pm
                Oingo Boingo said | April 12th 2017 @ 6:47pm | ! Report

                Angus and Malcolm young ?
                Remembering the set plays might be an issue for Mal though.

    • April 12th 2017 @ 5:51am
      klee Gluckman said | April 12th 2017 @ 5:51am | ! Report

      How has it come to this for NSW. I remember reading a book about the 1988 series and one of the players claimed the team was picked based on Rugby League Week ratings. I realise this is probably nonsense.

      However you need to pick players with an origin mentality. Just because Pearce has a good game before the team is picked the selectors should know by now not to pick him. Thurston and Cronk will dominate him.

    • April 12th 2017 @ 6:56am
      Agent11 said | April 12th 2017 @ 6:56am | ! Report

      Please no Klemmer…

      • Columnist

        April 12th 2017 @ 7:02am
        Stuart Thomas said | April 12th 2017 @ 7:02am | ! Report

        Just started to find some form two weeks back. Jury out on him a bit. What don’t you like about him?

        • Roar Guru

          April 12th 2017 @ 7:14am
          The Barry said | April 12th 2017 @ 7:14am | ! Report

          Some people just don’t like 170 metres and 25 tackles per game from their props…

          • Columnist

            April 12th 2017 @ 7:26am
            Stuart Thomas said | April 12th 2017 @ 7:26am | ! Report

            Yeah Tamou and Woods are far more damaging. Klemmer appears to rub some people the wrong way in that he is a bit of a loon. Numbers are consistent though.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 12th 2017 @ 7:32am
              Squidward said | April 12th 2017 @ 7:32am | ! Report

              I think sometimes you need a loon to rub the maroons the wrong way too

              • Columnist

                April 12th 2017 @ 7:34am
                Stuart Thomas said | April 12th 2017 @ 7:34am | ! Report

                Tallis, Gillmeister and Hodges did it to us for years. Unfortunately we tried to combat them with Geyer!

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