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Who will play for the New South Wales Blues?

Mary Konstantopoulos Columnist

By Mary Konstantopoulos, Mary Konstantopoulos is a Roar Expert

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    Are NSW set for a dominant 2018? (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

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    Tonight, Brad Fittler will finally announce his New South Wales Blues squad to take on the Queensland Maroons for State of Origin Game I on Wednesday 6 June at the MCG.

    The build-up to this series has been one of my favourites in recent years – potentially because I do see a glimmer of hope for the Blues.

    » The NSW Blues team has been confirmed! Check out the squad and our expert reaction to each selection

    But let’s start with the Maroons. Following Cameron Smith’s recent announcement about his retirement from all forms of representative football, the narrative about the Maroons in the media has very much been about a changing of the guard.

    And it’s true. The Maroons will certainly look very different this series without some of their most prominent champions of recent years like Smith, Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston unavailable for selection. The idea of playing Queensland without these players (as well as some other players ruled out due to injury) has some New South Wales fans salivating.

    When the Queensland squad is announced at 10am this morning, not only will there be some new faces, but also a new captain, widely believed to be Greg Inglis.

    Greg Inglis

    Greg Inglis of the Maroons (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

    Then there are the Blues.

    I’m still not quite over the heartbreak of last year’s series which I knew was over once Queensland won Game 2. But if there are changes at the Maroons, it’s nothing compared to the changes we will see at the Blues, least of which is the new coach.

    Fittler has hinted that this year Blues fans will see a changing of the guard, with the number of debutants apparently in double figures. What better opportunity to start fresh than with a new coach at the helm.

    So who will make the squad?

    According to, here’s what has been hinted at so far:

    • Nathan Cleary is set to make his State of Origin debut alongside his Penrith Panthers halves partner, James Maloney.
    • Other Panthers likely to make the squad include Reagan Campbell-Gillard and Tyrone Peachey.
    • South Sydney Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook is predicted to make his debut for the Blues in the number 9 jersey, edging out Cameron McInnes.
    • Josh Addo-Carr is on his way to Sydney from Melbourne to join the squad after a sensational rise for the Melbourne Storm over the last year and a half.
    • James Roberts is also on his way to Sydney from Brisbane to make his debut, despite an injury scare he sustained from the Brisbane Broncos win against the Parramatta Eels last Thursday night.
    • Nick Cotric from the Canberra Raiders is another potential debutant after his dazzling attacking performance against the Manly Sea Eagles on Saturday.
    • Apparently Tom and Jake Trbojevic, James Tedesco, David Klemmer and Latrell Mitchell are also in the squad.

    With the gossip on the internet, it is looking like the New South Wales Blues squad will line up as follows: James Tedesco, Tom Trbojevic, James Roberts, Latrell Mitchell, Josh Addo-Carr, James Maloney, Nathan Cleary, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Damien Cook, Paul Vaughan, Tyson Frizell, Boyd Cordner (c), Jake Trbojevic. Interchange: Tyrone Peachey, David Klemmer, Jack de Belin, Angus Crichton. Reserves: Nick Cotric, Tariq Sims, Ryan James.

    Aaron Woods

    Aaron Woods and James Tedesco (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

    And with the official announcement still several hours away, expect speculation to continue to mount throughout the day.

    Players I am thrilled to finally see get their Origin opportunity include James, Roberts, Cleary, Campbell-Gillard, Cook, Vaughan and De Belin. I’m also pleased to see both Nick Cotric and Angus Crichton in the mix. I had no doubt both these players would play Origin, but I just didn’t think it would be this early.

    Going off the above squad though, there are a couple of notable omissions.

    Some of these are unsurprising include Brett Morris (who announced his representative retirement after State of Origin last year) and Josh Dugan (who has struggled with injury and hasn’t been playing his best football for Cronulla, partly because of the number of positions he has played for the Sharks this year).

    Then there are Jarryd Hayne and Mitchell Pearce – both unavailable due to injury – and Andrew Fifita, who has pledged his allegiance to play for Tonga and has been tipped not to make the cut despite being indecisive about whether he wanted to represent the Blues or not.

    There are a couple of players though who are looking like they will miss out on selection and could potentially be classed as unlucky to lose their spot.

    Despite being in career-best form, Blake Ferguson looks like he will miss out on his spot. Fittler has spoken about the importance of team culture, so his visit to the pub last year with Dugan certainly would not have helped.

    Unfortunately for Ferguson, his position on the wing is a hotly contested one this year with plenty of fresh talent coming through like Addo-Carr and Cotric. Tedesco’s likely selection also does Ferguson no favours, particularly because this means that Tom Trbojevic is also likely to be fighting for a wing spot.

    Aaron Woods’ form has come under constant scrutiny this year – some fair and some unfair. I’ll never forget Woods’ efforts in Games 1 and 2 last year – particularly some of his big runs at the start of the game. If Woods misses out on selection, it will be the first time since 2013 that he has not made the squad.

    His numbers have been solid this year – he makes 13.4 runs per game, an average of 140 metres, tackles at 93.4 per cent efficiency and has made 21 offloads. However, Woods is prone to making errors at crucial points in the game and his hit-up technique means he rarely bends the line, instead choosing to put his back into the defence.

    The final forgotten Blue is Josh Jackson. Plenty of words can be used to describe Jackson – dependable, leader, professional. Unfortunately though his position as a right-edge second rower is under threat from the likes of Boyd Cordner, Wade Graham and Tyson Frizell. Can the stalwart of the Blues squad snare that final forward spot?

    No doubt we will get more hints throughout the day about the squad and by tonight, we will know who’s in and who’s out.

    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.

    State of Origin 2 is here, with the Blues looking to wrap the 2018 series up and the Maroons hoping to keep it alive and force a decider. Follow along with our NSW vs QLD Origin 2 live scores and blog.

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    The Crowd Says (37)

    • Roar Guru

      May 28th 2018 @ 7:20am
      The Barry said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

      They’ll come up with a good team but I think it’s dervestating for Josh Jackson if he misses out.

      He was NSW player of the series in 2016. He was man of the match in Game 2 last year and yeah while that was probably a bit of a random decision, he was definitely NSW’s best and the blues completely lost their way when he went off at the 35 minute mark.

      He was also one of a few Blues players to aim up in Game 3.

      He has out performed Cordner at Origin level, is in better form than Cordner yet Jackson will completely miss out while Cordner will be skipper. How does that work?

      How can Fittler claim he is trying to exorcise the demons of the past when he sticks loyal to the skipper who was like a deer in the headlights when the pressure was on last year?

      He has consistently outperformed Frizell and Graham at Origin level.

      He really doesn’t deserve to be axed from the team.

      • May 28th 2018 @ 7:40am
        Paul said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:40am | ! Report

        still time for him to be named, TB, This article is speculative at best. As a Dragons supporter, I’d like Frizell to be recognised but I think he’s probably best value at SOO level, off the bench, which would leave space for Jackson in the run on side.

        If they chose from these players, with maybe the sipper as an exception, the rest are in good form. Funny how Aiken has gone from a centre certainty to out of the squad entirely.

        • Roar Guru

          May 28th 2018 @ 7:51am
          The Barry said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:51am | ! Report

          Yeah, he still might be named but I haven’t seen him mentioned in too many of the experts sides…although quite a few fans picking sides still have him in there. I haven’t heard Fittler speak about him either.

          I think Roberts is a misstep and I’d have Aitken ahead of him all day.

          Roberts is fast but he doesn’t consistently make the effort plays that are needed in origin and the thought of him facing up to Inglis is a bit scary.

          The opportunities to use pure pace in Origin are few and far between.

          • May 28th 2018 @ 10:10am
            Albo said | May 28th 2018 @ 10:10am | ! Report

            I’m with you there Baz ! I can’t believe they are even considering De Belin for this first match as he is obviously carrying an injury to his hip that has effected his form in recent weeks and had him acting as a cripple on the sideline on Saturday night. Josh Jackson should be the 13 instead. Same with Roberts and his injured achilles . Why are we picking injured players so early in the series ? Aitkin should be the right centre .

      • Roar Guru

        May 28th 2018 @ 8:36am
        The Barry said | May 28th 2018 @ 8:36am | ! Report

        Just realised I invented a new word ‘dervestated’.

        That’s when you’re devastated by not getting something you deserve !

        • May 28th 2018 @ 10:53am
          ja ja klazo said | May 28th 2018 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          I can understand your frustration at Jackson missing out, I love him as well. But at the same time, he plays a position that NSW is ridiculously strong in and at the moment he’s playing in a losing team. Someone had to miss out. Personally, I would have started him with Friz replacing Crichton on the bench.

      • Roar Rookie

        May 28th 2018 @ 9:16am
        Bunney said | May 28th 2018 @ 9:16am | ! Report

        The major difference between Cordner and Jackson are the lines they run. Cordner runs a straight line, and hard. It’s attractive to the eye, seeing a 2nd-rower burst onto the ball at speed and try to squeeze through between 3rd and 4th man in. Jackson is a very good player, but he is slower, and the little I’ve seen of him this year I’ve noticed he has introduced some ball-playing while running a bit more of an angle.

        I haven’t see a lot of Jackson or Cordner this year, so this isn’t a fully informed opinion…but first impressions are hard to shake, and I think Cordner made good early impressions, and has been blessed that he’s remained viewed that way.

        Its also why, IMO, Frizell is miles ahead of Jackson in the court of public opinion. He runs fast, straight and hard. Attractive, even if not always effective, or as beneficial to the team as Jackson.

        • Roar Guru

          May 28th 2018 @ 10:56am
          The Barry said | May 28th 2018 @ 10:56am | ! Report

          Yeah, really good comments.

          It’s the little things about Jackson’s game that I respect.

          Yesterday there were about 3-4 occasions where he got back to take the second hit up from a kick. In an era when most forwards are walking back and letting backs do the tough stuff. Not glamorous, carted it up and got belted by a set defensive line but doing the work that no one else puts their hand up to do.

          He’s also the bloke that never stops moving, always alive who shuts down the gaps and half breaks. It doesn’t get noticed until he’s not there to do it.

          Frizzel is in better form than Jackson at the moment (and most backrowers) but Jackson is still in good form himself and has delivered in the past. There should certainly be room for him in the 17.

          • May 28th 2018 @ 11:13am
            Albo said | May 28th 2018 @ 11:13am | ! Report

            I would play Jackson as a 13, not an edge runner. He would be in my SOO team before the injured De Belin at 13.

            • May 28th 2018 @ 12:47pm
              Jed Clampit said | May 28th 2018 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

              If Freddie is serious and the team leaked is bogus , Jackson has to be there , I hate the dogs like a Monday, but he is all heart .

      • May 28th 2018 @ 11:51am
        AGO74 said | May 28th 2018 @ 11:51am | ! Report

        Yeah as good as De Belin and Crichton have been going this year I don’t agree with the decision to select them at the expense of Jackson and Graham (I know Graham has been injured but his performance yesterday albeit against a weak Newcastle team showed he would be fine if selected). I agree with you on Cordner going missing last year when the heat was really on.

        Change is good and often necessary but sometimes there is change for the sake of change, and I think the selections of Crichton/De Belin (or potentially Cordner) over Jackson/Graham is one example of that.

        • May 28th 2018 @ 1:20pm
          MonkeyMayes said | May 28th 2018 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

          I think you’ll find Cordner went missing in Game 3 of last year because he wasn’t fit, was playing injured and should never had been picked to play. I hope Freddie throughout the series only picks players who are 100% fit. The Origin arena is a harsh spotlight and quickly exposes players who are even remotely off the pace.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 7:34am
      jamesb said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:34am | ! Report

      It’s interesting how is providing the breaking news around the origin squads. News Ltd in particular would be extremely filthy about this.

      I can understand why they were whinging about the NRL spending money on its digital/ online platform like They are worried about not getting the exclusives.

      • Roar Guru

        May 28th 2018 @ 7:52am
        Renegade said | May 28th 2018 @ 7:52am | ! Report

        Agree how good is it!

        • May 28th 2018 @ 11:53am
          AGO74 said | May 28th 2018 @ 11:53am | ! Report

          I think we are all shedding a few crocodile tears for Buzz, Kenty et al.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 8:25am
      Busty McCracken said | May 28th 2018 @ 8:25am | ! Report

      I’m expecting Inglis to have his best series in a decade so I hope they have whoever is marking him ready to expect a much more competitive Inglis than we’ve seen the last few years. Just the loss of cronk smith & Thurston I really think he is going to do everything in his power to rally the next gen of stars so I hope we are prepared for this.

      If the early reports are true which seem fairly likely , I think it is bloody hilarious that Qld will claim underdog status while we debut 11 to their 4. If it were the other way around and they won it would go down as a favourite underdog series win of juniors. If we win it’ll be yeah well we didn’t have the big three.

      • Roar Guru

        May 28th 2018 @ 8:34am
        The Barry said | May 28th 2018 @ 8:34am | ! Report

        On MMM yesterday arvo Gordon Tallis was simultaneously claiming underdog status AND that NSW people were disrespecting Queensland by being favourites.

        • May 28th 2018 @ 9:37am
          Roger said | May 28th 2018 @ 9:37am | ! Report

          Yeah, Gordo didn’t start out with enough grey matter to take as many head shots as he has.

          • May 28th 2018 @ 9:48am
            Busty McCracken said | May 28th 2018 @ 9:48am | ! Report

            Haha classic Gordie. Geez I love this time of year when everything the other mob does is scrutinized and tore apart

        • Roar Rookie

          May 28th 2018 @ 10:37am
          Flat White said | May 28th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          All but 3 NSW players are in teams currently in the top 8. QLD have picked 8 players in teams outside the top 8. There are ‘some’ arguments for underdog status.

          • May 28th 2018 @ 11:56am
            AGO74 said | May 28th 2018 @ 11:56am | ! Report

            Doesn’t matter really. It’s a bit like the Olsen Filipaina effect. Terrible for the tigers/bears.. A wizard for the kiwis.

            Oh and then there’s the 1995 series when Qld won 3-0 without their super league Brisbane Broncos.

            • May 28th 2018 @ 12:35pm
              Jason Cave said | May 28th 2018 @ 12:35pm | ! Report

              How many times in Origin history has Queensland ever gone into a series as favourites?

              • May 28th 2018 @ 1:11pm
                Busty McCracken said | May 28th 2018 @ 1:11pm | ! Report

                This one more than ever is irking me though. I mean 11from 12. Slater inglis Morgan deadset they know how to spin it I’ll give em that.

              • Roar Rookie

                May 28th 2018 @ 2:00pm
                Flat White said | May 28th 2018 @ 2:00pm | ! Report

                I don’t know which is more amusing, the fact that it still occurs, or the fact that New South Welshman still get upset about it.

              • May 28th 2018 @ 2:26pm
                Busty McCracken said | May 28th 2018 @ 2:26pm | ! Report

                Haha touche

    • May 28th 2018 @ 8:33am
      Chris Love said | May 28th 2018 @ 8:33am | ! Report

      I agree that Cordner shouldn’t make this squad and Jackson deserves a run before Cordner. Though I still think there are stronger second row options. I would drop Cordner, bring Crichton on to start with Sims filling that bench spot.

    • Roar Rookie

      May 28th 2018 @ 9:33am
      Bunney said | May 28th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      It’s fascinating how NSW look set to pick 11 debutants, and yet have wrested favouritism off Qld.

      But, there is precedent for doing this and coming up good. NSW in 1990 fielded a very green team, and won 4 of next 5 series.

      Qld in 2001 fielded a ton of new names after losing 56-16 or something horrible in game III the previous year, and got the chocolates.

      And we all know what happened when Mal took over Qld in 2006.

    • May 28th 2018 @ 9:33am
      souvalis said | May 28th 2018 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      I’m a Cordner fan..think his last 2 games have been particularly strong,but seriously doubt the Blues will lose this in the pointed out elsewhere fear that the Fox will be starved of opportunity with Teddy who tends to look out mostly for himself..and if they were set on Teddy should have gone for the more robust Cotric…

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