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The good, the bad and the ugly of Freddie's Blues squad

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Roar Rookie
26th May, 2019
22
1350 Reads

Brad Fittler’s new-look Origin side features five debutants and a returning veteran in Josh Morris.

Let’s break down the noteworthy selections.

The good

Jack Wighton
Wighton has handled his halves switch with ease as the Raiders sit fifth on the ladder. He offers a defensive presence and hasn’t shirked his new fifth-tackle responsibilities, registering eight forced dropouts and two 40/20s so far this year.

Brad Fittler picked Wighton on the bench for his utility value, as he can cover any back line position in the event of injury. Wighton made his debut for the Raiders on the wing before progressing to the centres and eventually fullback. This year he has found a new home in the No.6 jersey.

Payne Haas
Haas may only be ten games into his NRL career, but he deserves this position.

The Broncos prop has an extraordinary motor, averaging over 65 minutes per game. In Round 6 he played the full 80 in the middle, something not many NRL players can do.

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He averages 173 run metres and four tackle breaks per game, proving to be a rare player with both stamina and impact. Fittler picked Haas on the bench for his impact, and he won’t disappoint.

Cameron Murray
Murray is having a break-out season, averaging 34 tackles and 132 metres a game while playing just 60 minutes on average.

He has been a stand-out in a Souths team that’s racked up ten wins and only one loss in 2019, and Fittler just couldn’t leave him out. Murray may also be cover for Damien Cook at hooker in case injury strikes.

Cody Walker
Walker’s selection may have been contentious if Luke Keary was fit for Origin One, but nobody else comes close.

Walker currently leads the NRL in tries scored (11), with 12 try assists and 15 line break assists to boot. He is the main reason South Sydney currently sit atop the NRL ladder.

(AAP Image/Darren England)

The bad

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Josh Morris
Morris is an experienced player, especially in the representative arena. However, he is past his prime and plays left centre at club level.

Latrell Mitchell happens to be the incumbent NSW left centre, pushing Morris to the right edge.

Morris won’t let NSW down, but Fittler should have picked an actual right centre with upside, such as Jesse Ramien.

Nick Cotric
Cotric deserves to wear the NSW jumper and perhaps could have been a candidate for the right centre spot after playing there for the Raiders following Joey Leilua’s injury.

However, since his debut, he has primarily played left wing. Josh Addo-Carr is the incumbent NSW left winger, meaning Cotric will have to switch sides.

It’s amazing that Blake Ferguson played so much representative football without extraordinary club form but doesn’t get picked when he actually deserves it.

Ferguson won the Dally M Winger of the Year award after a stand-out 2018 season and has hardly put a foot wrong for the Eels this year.

Not only that, but he is a regular right winger at club level. Perhaps Fittler left him out due to previous off-field antics, because it wouldn’t be on form.

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Blake Ferguson of the Parramatta Eels

(Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Angus Crichton
Crichton hasn’t backed up last year’s form, running for over 100 metres in just three games this year.

Although his slow start could be attributed to off-season shoulder surgery, the position could have gone to somebody with stronger form. Ryan Matterson would have been a fitting candidate.

The ugly

Nathan Cleary
Blues fans probably aren’t too pleased to see the return of Cleary, but who else was Fittler supposed to pick?

Cleary has done his best Steven Bradbury impersonation, following injuries to Mitchell Pearce, Adam Reynolds and Luke Keary on the weekend.