NSW Blues team for Origin 1: Expert reaction

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    After weeks (or is that months?) of speculation, new New South Wales Blues coach Brad Fittler has named his squad for Origin 1.

    As as always, there are the usual mix of usual suspects, surprise inclusions and shock omissions in the Origin team, although with 11 debutants there are plenty of brave decisions by the NSW selectors.

    To help you make sense of the squad, here are my thoughts on each of the players named by Fittler.

    1. James Tedesco
    After the Roosters’ questionable form to start the year, James Tedesco’s automatic selection for State of Origin was questioned. But even though Teddy hasn’t been firing, very few Roosters players have. On his day, Tedesco is still one of the most brilliant and exciting attacking players in the competition and when unleashed alongside the rest of the talent in the Blues squad, he’ll certainly be more than capable of igniting the New South Wales attack. Perhaps Origin selection is the boost he needs to get his season back on track. He has the best fullback numbers in the comp, averaging around 170 metres per game.

    2. Tom Trbojevic
    Despite Manly’s challenging start to the season, Tommy Turbo has been a shining light. His form has been up and down, but he has managed seven try assists in as many games. He’s also exceptionally versatile and could play the fullback position or on the wing. Also, is there a more awesome brotherly combination in the NRL right now than Tom and Jake? I can’t wait to watch the two of them combine for the Blues. My only worry is his ability to defuse kicks on the full.

    3. Latrell Mitchell
    The battle between James Roberts and Latrell Mitchell was one to behold a couple of weekends ago. Very few players can put a fend on like Latrell and all at 20 years old. He has made over 45 tackle busts, which puts him right towards the top of the leaderboard for that stat, and is guaranteed to be a nightmare for the Queensland defenders.

    4. James Roberts
    If we selected James Roberts simply for his speed, I would be completely comfortable with that. They don’t call him ‘Jimmy the Jet’ for nothing. His spark in attack is welcome in this Blues squad too and he will be a serious handful for the Maroons defence.

    5. Josh Addo-Carr
    The Fox! Addo-Carr has been one of the most impressive players in the NRL this year. He’s been leading all NRL try scorers for most of the year but he doesn’t just know how to find the try line; he is incredibly fast with about a dozen line breaks already this season. I’m looking forward to watching him combine with James Tedesco and the rest of the Blues backline to add some much-needed spark on the wing.

    Josh Addo-Carr Melbourne Storm NRL Rugby League 2017 Finals

    (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    6. James Maloney
    There has been plenty of talk about James Maloney missing out on Origin. But there was absolutely no reason for the veteran to lose his spot. He led the Panthers superbly in the halves without Nathan Cleary earlier this year and has done everything possible to retain his place in the halves. He brings much-needed experience to the Blues squad and given so many of his Panthers teammates feature alongside him, he will feel right at home. He might lead the NRL in terms of missed tackles but stats can be misleading. His friends in the forward line will help to plug any gaps.

    7. Nathan Cleary
    A young man who I very much hope is part of the long-term future of the Blues. We know plenty about Nathan Cleary already, particularly at how skilled he is on the footy field, but I have been particularly impressed with how quickly he has returned from injury and slotted back into the Panthers line-up. It’s time for the Blues to try something new and I’m confident the young halfback will be more than capable of stepping up on the Origin stage. What’s scary is how young he is and how much opportunity there is for him to continue to grow, develop and learn from those around him.

    8. David Klemmer
    One of the first names I put down on my Origin list. Klemmer was a standout for the Blues last year and was impressive during the Kangaroos’ World Cup campaign too. He is an absolute competitor and his aggression and big hit ups are what fans love about him. He’s been one of the only things for Bulldogs fans to cheers about this year and, just like Reagan Campbell-Gillard, is averaging just under ten metres per carry.

    9. Damien Cook
    Damien Cook, where have you been all my life? Wow. What a season he is having for the Rabbitohs. I cannot wait to see his exceptional running game on show for the Blues – just like when the Bunnies played the Panthers and Titans earlier this year. The best thing about Damien Cook though (other than his running game and crisp, effective service out of dummy half) is his defence. He made over 60 tackles a couple of weeks the Titans last week. He is well and truly ready for Origin.

    Damien Cook runs the ball

    (AAP Image/Richard Wainwright)

    10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
    He has already been a Kangaroo, now Reagan Campbell-Gillard is a Blue. What I love most about RCG is his energy and how physical he is in every single game he plays. His aggression is something that the Blues could use, as are the 100 average running metres he makes per game. His metres per run – just under ten – are also exceptionally high, and the best among the props who were fighting for selection. We also need more moustaches in the Blues squad. Campbell-Gillard delivers there.

    11. Boyd Cordner (captain)
    The dialogue over the last couple of weeks suggesting that Boyd Cordner’s spot was at risk was ridiculous. It was never in doubt. He may not be playing in career best form at the moment, but he is the New South Wales captain and only an injury could have prevented him from getting selected. Look out for him as a decoy runner – it’s one of his best skills as well as just being a busy second rower.

    Boyd Cordner State of Origin NSW Blues NRL Rugby League 2017

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    12. Tyson Frizell
    I would have been very surprised to see Tyson Frizell miss out on an Origin spot, not just because of the Dragons’ form, but also because of his own. He played Origin last year and continues to go from strength to strength. He is also exceptional in defence.

    13. Jack de Belin
    It is finally Jack de Belin’s turn to shine at State of Origin level. He’s been on the extended bench for the last three years and for all three games last year, but now it’s time for him to make his debut. He’s one of my favourite footy players – he knows how to break a tackle and has a handy offload. He will be a welcome addition to the Blues line-up as part of the forward rotation.

    14. Paul Vaughan
    Paul Vaughan was exceptionally unlucky to miss out on selection last year after moving to the Dragons and having a break out season. In fact, I still don’t understand his snubbing. As a player he continues to go from strength to strength. He will add some much needed power and speed to the Blues forward pack and will be among friends with plenty of other Dragons featuring in the squad. He is also very effective in defence and is an absolute workhorse. Both traits needed in this Blues squad if they are going to beat Queensland. He may have a slightly lower workload this year than last, but that’s only due to James Graham joining the Red V.

    15. Jake Trbojevic
    Jake Trbojevic was always a certainty for State of Origin, even with the Sea Eagles’ challenging start to the season. A tackling machine, a forward with ball skills, he is able to play prop or lock and was a shining star for the Blues in Games 2 and 3 last year despite the results. He’s young and is part of the future of this squad. I’m looking forward to seeing his combination with brother, Tom. Did I mention he can also play 80 minutes?

    16. Angus Crichton
    Angus Crichton’s Origin selection is a surprising one. Not that he got here, just that he got here so early. Crichton had a breakout season in 2017 and while his overall numbers might be slightly lower this year, that could also be the result of other players (like the Burgess twins) stepping back up. He’s an exciting young player who is certainly part of the Blues’ future plans – it is good to see him getting his opportunity early.

    17. Tyrone Peachey
    Peachey has been in wonderful form over the last couple of weeks. Since Round 6, he has averaged 130 metres and four tackle busts and has been part of a Panthers squad that is turning plenty of heads. He is also capable of playing plenty of positions including in the back row, halves and centres, so is the perfect choice for the Blues utility role.

    Tariq Sims (18th man)
    It really is a shame that injury has cruelled Tariq Sims through his career and that he hasn’t had the best run in the lead-up to Origin. He’s having a great season for the Dragons though and is making the second most post-contact metres in the competition. He is also making some scarily good tackles and will certainly intimidate the Queensland pack both in attack and defence.

    Nick Cotric (19th man)
    It was never a matter of if Cotric was going to play Origin, but when, although he’ll still probably have to bide his time after being named as 19th man thanks to James Roberts’ lingering achilles injury. Cotric has made more tackle busts than any winger this year and certainly knows how to find the try line. With an average of seven line breaks, four tries, and over 100 metres per game, he is a welcome addition to any squad.

    Mary Konstantopoulos
    Mary Konstantopoulos

    Mary Konstantopoulos is a lawyer, sports advocate and proud owner and founder of the Ladies Who empire, including Ladies who League, Ladies who Legspin, Ladies who Lineout and Ladies who Leap. You can find her podcast on iTunes and find her on Twitter @mary__kaye and @ladieswholeague.

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    The Crowd Says (64)

    • Roar Guru

      May 28th 2018 @ 6:45pm
      Scott Pryde said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:45pm | ! Report

      Unbelievable. Greg Inglis and Valentine Holmes are going to have a field day! Why ignore the bloke who has shut him down successfully this year? Just makes no sense.

      On the selfish side, thank god Aitken is going to be available for the Dragons before Origin 3.

      Can’t really complain about the rest of the squad, although I’m not sure Crichton has really shown enough to be picked.

      I really hope this doesn’t ruin Cleary. He is so young and has had time out with injury. This will either make or break him and his career I reckon.

      • May 28th 2018 @ 6:58pm
        The Spectator said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:58pm | ! Report

        Aiken should be there instead of either the other 2!

      • Roar Guru

        May 28th 2018 @ 7:05pm
        Emcie said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

        It’s a bit odd that they’ve gone out of their way to stack all their speed on the one side against GI. And then having a ball playing fullback on the wing seems a bit strange, I woulda chucked Roberts on a wing with Turbo at center so you’ve got pure speed on both sides

        • May 28th 2018 @ 7:35pm
          The Spectator said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:35pm | ! Report

          If teddy out and turbo fb then roberts jac wingers would be a good option, aiken and turbo centres and roberts jac wingers again good option, the way it is isnt ideal but we will see, hopefully im wrong.

          • Roar Guru

            May 28th 2018 @ 7:50pm
            Emcie said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:50pm | ! Report

            Apparently I’ve been reading teams wrong for years, JAC and Roberts are named on opposite sides of the field… Still find it weird having Turbo on the wing and Roberts inside him.

            It’s a weird game to predict with tthe sides named, either side could blow the other away and both sides may have massive achilles heels. I can’t see it being a close game whichever side wins, I think both sides will be reliant on getting on the front foot early

      • May 28th 2018 @ 7:20pm
        Matt said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:20pm | ! Report

        I’m guessing it’s because the guy does not like to pass the ball. Makes him offensively worked-out. Sure that’s not everything, but then maybe selectors are from the school which taught about there being no “I”
        in team.

      • Roar Guru

        May 28th 2018 @ 7:32pm
        Renegade said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:32pm | ! Report

        Aitken is another Dugan…. no point going with a replica as a replacement.

        • May 28th 2018 @ 7:36pm
          The Spectator said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:36pm | ! Report

          I havent seen aiken pass yet but he hasnt needed to cause he is so strong and fast.

      • May 28th 2018 @ 8:11pm
        no one in particular said | May 28th 2018 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

        They are facing 2018 Inglis, not 2008 Inglis

        • May 28th 2018 @ 10:48pm
          Tony said | May 28th 2018 @ 10:48pm | ! Report

          Turbo probably has Jimmy for size and bulk, so better under the high ball and more effective at kick returns.

      • May 29th 2018 @ 11:00am
        Roberto said | May 29th 2018 @ 11:00am | ! Report

        Scott, that opening try from Cleary against the Dragons was special – no other halfback in the comp would have run that line.

        The kid is special, he is the best halfback in NSW for the last two season by a country mile.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 6:51pm
      DP Schaefer said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:51pm | ! Report

      A good squad, and quick but light on some defensive strength. no real surprises.. thanks to leaks..
      lol, I don’t see the point of this drama the team was already out there. How about just announcing after last game Sunday and avoid this.

      Cotric unlucky not to be in first team, so was Woods. He may not have looked in form but his numbers were above all the others. Also Merrin after Penrith outplaying Dragons for the last 3 weeks.

      The mistake? QLD will enjoy the fact that Dugan isn’t there.

      • May 28th 2018 @ 6:55pm
        Alan said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

        Enjoy Dugan isn’t there? He’s consistently ordinary. What a strange comment.

        • May 28th 2018 @ 7:06pm
          DP Schaefer said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:06pm | ! Report

          Incumbent Australian centre, Sharks wouldn’t be where they are without him, great line defence and yes, the QLD centres will be happier against the two rookies they are facing than Dugan. Don’t know why it would be a strange comment. 🙂

          • Roar Guru

            May 28th 2018 @ 7:10pm
            eagleJack said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:10pm | ! Report

            The only people missing Dugan will be the publicans down at Coogee. Oh and Aristocrat

            • Roar Guru

              May 28th 2018 @ 7:33pm
              Renegade said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:33pm | ! Report

              Lol good to see that the Bacardi breezer brothers aren’t there.

              • Roar Guru

                May 28th 2018 @ 8:08pm
                eagleJack said | May 28th 2018 @ 8:08pm | ! Report

                Haha very true Rene. Was so disappointing as a fan to hear that they’d got on it on their day off last year. Selfish.

      • May 28th 2018 @ 7:05pm
        JVGO said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

        Dugan and Jackson should have been there. De Belin is way overrated and Dugan was a better chance of playing Inglis to a draw. Aitken of form is pretty unlucky. I think Queensland will win game one against this side.

        • June 6th 2018 @ 12:56pm
          Ethan Dominish said | June 6th 2018 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

          Sucked in for QLD because they don’t have Billy Slater for the opening

    • May 28th 2018 @ 6:53pm
      jamesb said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:53pm | ! Report

      Only three dragons picked for NSW. Add with Hunt, that makes it four. Yeah I know, i didn’t want too many Dragons players selected. I didn’t want 2011 all over again.

      Geez Mary you are so quick with the side. It’s like you knew before hand.

      Anyway, it’s an attacking side. Two centres that are not noted for defence. A winger playing out of position, and one prop forward short.

      • Roar Guru

        May 28th 2018 @ 7:05pm
        eagleJack said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

        With the Maroons naming only 2 specialist props, the Blues naming 4 would have been overkill.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 6:55pm
      The Spectator said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:55pm | ! Report

      No josh jackson and jake not starting lock is criminal!

      • May 28th 2018 @ 7:00pm
        Jarryd said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:00pm | ! Report

        Agreed with Jackson, he’s comfortably better than Frizell and Cordner. Jake offers more utility off the bench than JdB.

        • May 28th 2018 @ 7:02pm
          The Spectator said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:02pm | ! Report

          Jake is the best lock in the country why bench start?

          • May 28th 2018 @ 7:11pm
            DP Schaefer said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:11pm | ! Report

            No good answer except that they are probably considering him also covering front row.

            • May 28th 2018 @ 7:39pm
              The Spectator said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:39pm | ! Report

              Thats why starting him is so critical, the first 20 we we have 3 props out there, jake plays 80 mins easy so they missed a trick right there.

              • Roar Guru

                May 28th 2018 @ 8:11pm
                eagleJack said | May 28th 2018 @ 8:11pm | ! Report

                The final make-up of the team isn’t confirmed until one hour before kick-off. Things could well change. My concern with de Belin is obviously his hip. You don’t want to play your first Origin if you aren’t 100%

    • May 28th 2018 @ 6:59pm
      Henry Crun said | May 28th 2018 @ 6:59pm | ! Report

      Roberts? Spends 70 minutes budging, 10 minutes flashy. Since when do we reward numerous off field “indiscretions” with a SOO berth. Tommy Turbo centre, Cotric wing. The kid’s a natural right winger playing on the left due to Rapana, and is too good not to be in this team. If he played for a Sydney club he’d be the first winger picked.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 7:03pm
      Spectator said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:03pm | ! Report

      defensively suspect back line

      • May 28th 2018 @ 7:05pm
        The Spectator said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:05pm | ! Report

        Holy commoly batman!

      • May 28th 2018 @ 7:07pm
        jamesb said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:07pm | ! Report

        But it is a backline with the potential of alot of points. You could say that NSW has gone with a defensive players over the last decade and it hasn’t worked.

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