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My Blues team for State of Origin 2017

Jimmy Smith Columnist

By Jimmy Smith, Jimmy Smith is a Roar Expert

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    A couple of weeks ago I picked my Queensland team for State of Origin I to be played at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday the 31st of May. Got some interesting feedback too.

    Now it is time to pick my NSW team for the same game. We have seen eight rounds of footy and the candidates who can and will be picked have had enough opportunity to show coach Laurie Daley what they are capable of. Some may need a little more time.

    I cannot stress how important the winning of Game I has become for the overall result of the series. Since 1982 there have been 35 three-game series contested and only seven times has the team that lost the first game gone on to win the series (in 1999 and 2002 the team winning the first game went on to draw the series).

    This year there are two games at Suncorp Stadium. When we understand how important winning Game I is to the overall series result, we know then that NSW have to pick players who will handle the cauldron-like atmosphere that ground presents if they are to be any chance this year.

    With all of these things in mind, here is my team to go into battle for NSW against Queensland Game I 2017.

    1. James Tedseco
    Picks himself. One game for NSW, one win. Whichever metric you use this year to judge players, especially fullbacks, Teddy is top or near the top. Running metres (2nd) line break assists (4th) hit-ups (3rd) and tackle breaks (1st, and comfortably so). And he has been doing it for a number of years now. No wonder Tigers fans are devastated to see him go.

    Wests Tigers fullback James Tedesco

    2. Brett Morris
    Experience counts and Morris has it in spades. Eighteen test matches and 12 Origins, a big body and still the most likely looking attacking player for the Bulldogs – Morris on the left wing gives me confidence.

    3. Jarryd Hayne
    Hayne is a big-match player that will not just survive in the Origin arena, but actually thrive. Playing centre means he can conserve energy if need be and then pick the moments for his involvement. A better option than Michael Jennings because of what he can create for players around him. Can you imagine the nightmares he will give Queensland in their team meetings in the lead up to the game?

    4. Josh Dugan
    No doubt Dugan is considered a centre at this level, and has done a good job of it at state and international level. Has played fullback six times for NSW and centre on only three occasions but in six Tests has played centre in five of them. He’s very safe, defence oriented and gives versatility if anything happens to Tedesco.

    5. Tom Trbojevic
    Was I just talking about versatility? Play-anywhere Turbo Tom’s stats rival those of Tedesco – equal second most line breaks, second in number of hit ups and most running metres with the second highest average running metres. Tom’s height on the wing gives the NSW kickers a target as well. No experience at Origin level but you get the sense the guy who played NRL at 18 will handle that arena.

    6. Matt Moylan
    My first left field selection of the team, for the left half position. I know his club form has been down this year but hear me out. Moylan played well in his three games last year but had his best game in the halves in Game III, the game New South Wales won. The captaincy issue won’t be a problem for him and you think he will relish the opportunity to get into an environment where he is just one of the boys again.

    7. Adam Reynolds
    Two games for two losses last year doesn’t read well. But if there is one area where Queensland have been better than NSW over the last ten years, it’s the way they finish their sets. Reynolds is the best kicking option for the Blues in the halves and therefore has to be there. He also kicks goals at 95 per cent this year.

    8. Andrew Fifita
    The best front-rower in the world at the moment. The stats back it up. The eye backs it up too. He has started from the bench for all of his seven Origin games, but New South Wales need to get him on the paddock from kick off. He will be a target of the Queensland team to bait him into penalties but I get the sense there is a more mature Fifita on the field this year.

    Andrew Fifita of the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks celebrates

    9. Robbie Farah
    This is another of those agonising decisions that left me going with experience. Farah will be the second-most experienced player behind Hayne, although his form for Souths has been solid without being spectacular. The question remains – who can you pick in front of him that you are more confident in doing the job than Robbie?

    10. David Klemmer
    Another with experience (six games) and has certainly not been over awed by the occasion. In middling team performances from the Bulldogs this year, Klemmer has been a shining light averaging big metres (161) per game.

    11. Boyd Cordner
    The first forward picked, I would make Boyd captain of the side. He plays 80 minutes on the left edge and also has the capacity to play in the middle if needed. Is revered by teammates at club level for his single-mindedness and resilience – qualities you need in Origin.

    12. Tyson Frizell
    Frizell played two games for NSW last year, one in the middle and one on the edge. That gives an insight into the versatility of this hugely athletic player. His hard edge running will be a weapon that Reynolds can go to on the right side.

    13. Jake Trbojevic
    Jake Trbojevic has a Test match under his belt but no Origin experience. Like his brother, Tom, you again get the sense he can handle the arena. He’s a middle forward who can play 80 minutes (he probably won’t have to though), a ruthless defender and is clever with the ball – there’s not much more you could ask for really.

    14. Mitchell Pearce
    About September last year, Paul, a friend of mine, sent me the winning team from New South Wales from 1996. Andrew Johns played hooker in all three games. Geoff Toovey was the halfback. He asked why Mitchell Pearce couldn’t play hooker for NSW? Throwing the Roosters No.7 in for an entire 80 minutes seems risky, but having him as your 14th man doesn’t – he covers the halves, he’s a strong defender and is good out of dummy half. This just might work Paul!

    Mitchell Pearce Sydney Roosters

    15. Aaron Woods
    Another experienced head at this level for the Blues. Woods’ output at club and representative level has always been acceptable, but it is one of the areas that masks how it is done. Dare I say it, but he needs more grunt in his work. Woods was outstanding for the Tigers last week and gave everyone a reminder of his capabilities.

    16. Junior Paulo
    Paulo is a risk but one I’m prepared to take. His carries are so strong and he bends the line every time he runs. I get the feeling Queensland would prefer him not to be there. Given the middle forwards I’ve already picked are capable of playing big minutes anyway, he may not get much game time which could see some serious output for the minutes that he is on the park.

    17. Ryan James
    I am such a fan of James. His output is always strong, he could play on an edge if required and the fact that he has been made captain of his club side works in his favour. The penalties that he gives away need to come down but apart from that he is Origin ready.

    The unlucky players? Wade Graham tops this list. He is playing better than last year when he made his Origin debut, but that was in the absence of Cordner.

    James Maloney is also unlucky but missed tackles and penalties conceded work against him.

    Another Sharks Premiership-winner, Jack Bird, is also unlucky. If his dummy half work was better than he would be a shoe-in, but it isn’t and it needs to be perfect for when Farah is off the field.

    Josh Jackson also very unlucky but he is an edge player and Frizell has the jump on him there.

    The lucky players? The 17 named above… because they will get the chance to win Game I for NSW this year and ensure a win for the Blues!

    Jimmy Smith
    Jimmy Smith

    A well-known and respected NRL commentator, Jimmy Smith played professional rugby league in an 11-year career that included stints in both the NRL with the Roosters, Western Suburbs and South Sydney, and England's Super League with Salford. He earned over 150 first grade caps before hanging up the boots and switching to the commentary box. You can find him on Twitter @ThatJimmySmith.

    If you could choose from any and every NRL player in the competition, who would you pick in your rugby league dream team? Let us know with our team picker right here, and be sure to share it with all your league-loving mates.

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    The Crowd Says (97)

    • April 27th 2017 @ 8:55am
      SewingMachine said | April 27th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      Please no Farah..time to blood the new generation..give Peats a go..he’d handle the situation..Hang on..stop..who am I kidding..Daley is the coach..if Ennis’s stellar form couldn’t unseat an underdone Farah last one will! Daley’s love affair with Robbie has cost the Blues big time in the last couple of years..

      • April 27th 2017 @ 9:26am
        patrick said | April 27th 2017 @ 9:26am | ! Report

        yep peats should be in the team i think he will be great for orgin

        • Roar Rookie

          April 27th 2017 @ 10:53am
          Don said | April 27th 2017 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          I’d be more inclined to play Josh Reynolds at 9 if they aren’t going to pick Peats.
          His rush defence and general mongrel around the ruck is better than going back to 4th man flop Farah.
          Does no one else see how often Robbie puts the ball high, low or behind the kicker on the 5th or when under the pump?
          His stats are awesome.
          His quality is mediocre.

          • Roar Guru

            April 27th 2017 @ 12:38pm
            Magnus M. Østergaard said | April 27th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

            I think theres concerns around Jeynolds defense at hooker in regards to how well his shoulder holds up. Im not sure if he is up to making 30-40 tackles in one of the hardest hitting league arenas there is. The defensive workload is completely different to what you get playing on the edge. He could probably handle it coming off the bench however.

          • Columnist

            April 28th 2017 @ 12:51pm
            Jimmy Smith said | April 28th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

            Don I think you couldn’t have a starting hooker that is not playing hooker for their club. Reynolds off the bench in the Pearce role I would accept….except Pearce’s form is superior.

            • Roar Rookie

              April 28th 2017 @ 5:53pm
              Don said | April 28th 2017 @ 5:53pm | ! Report

              Andrew Johns, Geoff Toovey, Craig Gower, Paul Green, Wayne Bartrim, Kevin Campion, Michael Crocker… All started games at hooker in SOO when not playing that position at club level.

              No. Can’t work.

    • April 27th 2017 @ 8:55am
      KingCowboy said | April 27th 2017 @ 8:55am | ! Report

      I hope NSW pick Farah and Woodsagain. Peats is a way better option IMO. Fast and hard. He just has something about him that I think would make him a great Origin player. Woods has no impact when he runs the ball. I can someone like Napa just lighting him up with big hits.

      • April 27th 2017 @ 11:11am
        Sam Bartrim said | April 27th 2017 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        Woods was mom on the weekend…another person who knows nothing about Rugby League…and contionously shows it with his comments.

        • April 27th 2017 @ 1:22pm
          KingCowboy said | April 27th 2017 @ 1:22pm | ! Report

          Woods is a cat who is overrated. He bailed on his club when he was needed the most.

          • April 27th 2017 @ 3:14pm
            Sam Bartrim said | April 27th 2017 @ 3:14pm | ! Report

            But here you are hiding behind a name called “kingcowboy”. Who is the real cat here? Not the guy who plays professional Rugby League against the best every week and puts his body on the line. Nope, it’s the guy called “kingcowboy” who thinks being a spectator makes him a player…also sounds delusional to me.

            • April 27th 2017 @ 4:10pm
              KingCowboy said | April 27th 2017 @ 4:10pm | ! Report

              Face it Samuel, HE IS A CAT who sold out his team mates and his teams supporters. You might like those traits in people, so I can why you support him, you might be a cat as well.

              • April 27th 2017 @ 5:33pm
                Sam Bartrim said | April 27th 2017 @ 5:33pm | ! Report

                Looks like I hit a nerve… little”king Cowboy”..still hiding behind a wimpy name and still calling woods the cat.oh the irony!! My name is “Samantha” as well little boy. Girls/women have opinions about sport as well but I get the feeling being around the opposite sex is not common with you. Good luck little man!

              • April 27th 2017 @ 6:58pm
                Chui said | April 27th 2017 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

                Samantha, could you please pass the popcorn.

              • April 27th 2017 @ 7:26pm
                Kramer said | April 27th 2017 @ 7:26pm | ! Report

                Kingcowboy. I think you have just been, how do the kids say “owned”. Time to take a break old son!

      • April 27th 2017 @ 4:29pm
        Jara W said | April 27th 2017 @ 4:29pm | ! Report

        Yep. Add Moylan to the list for mine in he’s in the halves. Every second team I’ve read has him listed at 5/8. Then claims it as a left field selection.

    • April 27th 2017 @ 9:17am
      Roberto said | April 27th 2017 @ 9:17am | ! Report

      Jennings scored in the final minute to save NSW from a 3-0 drubbing last year…and justifying selections of Moylan and Tedesco based on that game is a paper thin argument.

      Just because the team won, didn’t mean that they had ‘good’ games.
      Tedesco let a couple of bombs bounce and slipped in most of his runs due to his low running action, was quite a nervous nelly out there. But he should still be picked now, dangerous if he is on this time.

      Moylan was targeted in defence and was throwing long cut out passes with same basic errors – does not warrant the 5/8 jersey in the opener at QLD’s cauldron with his current terrible form.

      • April 27th 2017 @ 11:14am
        Sam Bartrim said | April 27th 2017 @ 11:14am | ! Report

        Jennings speciality is killing an overlap…he just does not involve his wingers…they could be out there alone and he would still dummy and cut back inside. Time to move on from Jennings and bring on BJ Leilua..

        • April 27th 2017 @ 1:09pm
          Straight talker said | April 27th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

          Agreed, time for BJ Leilua. How about BJ in centres and Hayne on the wing. Imagine that for a combination. Get rid of Morris.

    • April 27th 2017 @ 9:22am
      Charles NSW said | April 27th 2017 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      Closer to my team selections but it really depends who they have in mind
      The two halves Maloney and Reynolds should go again but will they do that?

    • April 27th 2017 @ 9:28am
      MonkeyMayes said | April 27th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Sorry, but the omissions of Maloney, Graham, Jack Bird and Josh Jackson are horrendous and defy analysis.

      • April 27th 2017 @ 9:39am
        Haradasun said | April 27th 2017 @ 9:39am | ! Report

        Moylan is put of form, they would be mad not to go with maloney. For mine moylan is fb or nothing and turbo and teddy and hayne are all ahead of him.

        I like Jurbo at 13. I think the strategy for game 1 should be to pick a monster pack and take it to qld up the middle to open it uo for tedesco turbo hayne etc id put boyd ahead of paulo. I agree putting some big units on the interchange is a go. Its pointless picking 5 80 min backrowers in the team! Cordner jackson frizzel graham are all largely interchangeable and will do a good job for nsw

        Im thinking the might pick pearce at 9 and reynolds at 7.

      • April 27th 2017 @ 10:22am
        jeandetroyes said | April 27th 2017 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Agree entirely. Also, 5 fullbacks to fill the 3/4 line is an insult to the specialised talents of the excellent wingers and centres around. Sorry Jimmy.

        • April 27th 2017 @ 11:03am
          Big Daddy said | April 27th 2017 @ 11:03am | ! Report

          Agree 100% about all the fullbacks.
          Also Maloney is by far far best option at 5/8.
          Forwards pick themselves with exception of Farah (no way) and there are plenty of good backs who need a go.
          James Robert’s, leulia,

        • Columnist

          April 28th 2017 @ 12:56pm
          Jimmy Smith said | April 28th 2017 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

          Don’t apologise Jean – all opinions welcome.

          Tel;l me though, which specialty winger would you prefer to have in your side than Tommy Turbo?? You and I know he can play that position….

    • April 27th 2017 @ 9:36am
      The Koomz said | April 27th 2017 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      1. Tedesco
      2. Hayne
      3. Dugan
      4. Leilua
      5. Ferguson
      6. Moylan
      7. Maloney
      8. Fifita
      9. Farrar/McInnes
      10. Woods
      11. Cordner
      12. Jackson
      13. Frizzel

      14. Bird
      15. Graham
      16. Klemmer
      17. Vaughn

      • April 27th 2017 @ 12:29pm
        madmax said | April 27th 2017 @ 12:29pm | ! Report

        You must be a Sharks supporter! Are you serious about Ferguson & Dugan??

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