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Experts Roar: Name your Origin teams for game one - new faces galore for Blues and Maroons

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25th May, 2022
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The teams for the State of Origin series opener will be named after this weekend’s NRL Indigenous Round with both coaches facing a few curly questions when they settle on their squads.

NSW and Queensland will name 22-man squads for the June 8 showdown at Accor Stadium with injuries forcing several changes while some big-name players are down on form and struggling to retain their representative jerseys.

Brad Fittler needs to find two new centres with Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell sidelined with injuries while Billy Slater has a few selection headaches surrounding his forward pack and outside backs as well as whether to persist with Kalyn Ponga at fullback despite his modest form at Newcastle this season.

The Roar experts have their say and if you’d like to do likewise, fire away in the comments section below.

Experts Roar – Teams for Origin I

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Michael Hagan (premiership-winning player and coach)

NSW

1 James Tedesco
2 Josh Addo-Carr
3 Stephen Crichton
4 Kotoni Staggs
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Payne Haas
9 Damien Cook
10 Junior Paulo
11 Cameron Murray
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Nicho Hynes
15 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
16 Jake Trbojevic
17 Keaon Koloamotangi

Queensland

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1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Murray Taulagi
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Dane Gagai
5 Xavier Coates
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans
8 Josh Papali’i
9 Harry Grant
10 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
11 Felise Kaufusi
12 Kurt Capewell
13 Jai Arrow
14 Ben Hunt
15 Patrick Carrigan
16 Jeremiah Nanai
17 Moeaki Fotuaika

The Maroons lost their way a bit with their build-up to game one last year when they selected a few blokes who were carrying injury or down on form in club footy so they won’t be doing that again. I like Murray Taulagi as a wing option given his mate on the left edge at the Cowboys, Val Holmes, will probably be one of the centres.

For NSW, Stephen Crichton is a no-brainer to come in for one of those spots given his relationship with the other Panthers that will be in the team and I’d go with Kotoni Staggs as the right centre.

Kotoni Staggs of the Broncos makes a break

(Photo by Matt Roberts/Getty Images)

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Paul Suttor (Roar expert)

NSW

1 James Tedesco
2 Josh Addo-Carr
3 Kotoni Staggs
4 Stephen Crichton
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Payne Haas
9 Damien Cook
10 Jake Trbojevic
11 Cam Murray
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Nicho Hynes
15 Junior Paulo
16 Ryan Matterson
17 Hudson Young

Queensland

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1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Xavier Coates
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Dane Gagai
5 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans
8 Jai Arrow
9 Harry Grant
10 Josh Papalii
11 Kurt Capewell
12 David Fifita
13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14 Ben Hunt
15 Lindsay Collins
16 Felise Kaufusi
17 Jeremiah Nanai

The NSW starting side pretty much picks itself but Brad Fittler has a chance to introduce some new blood on the bench so why not pick some new faces like Nicho Hynes, Ryan Matterson and Hudson Young, who are all in career-best form.

Queensland also need to change things up – Jeremiah Nanai must surely get a start somewhere while Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow showed he was not overawed by the occasion in his Origin debut so he could be a potent option on a wing.

Joe Frost (Roar expert)

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NSW

1 James Tedesco
2 Josh Addo-Carr
3 Kotoni Staggs
4 Stephen Crichton
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Junior Paulo
9 Damien Cook
10 Daniel Saifiti
11 Cam Murray
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Nicho Hynes
15 Payne Haas
16 Angus Crichton
17 Jake Trbojevic

Queensland

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Selwyn Cobbo
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Dane Gagai
5 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans
8 Moeaki Fotuaika
9 Harry Grant
10 Josh Papalii
11 Kurt Capewell
12 Felise Kaufusi
13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14 Ben Hunt
15 Patrick Carrigan
16 David Fifita
17 Jeremiah Nanai

Saifiti, Angus Crichton and Jurbo have been down on form but have runs on the board at this level for NSW and deserve a bit of faith that they’ll deliver again this year – at least for Game 1.

At the other end of the experience spectrum, Queensland teenagers Cobbo and Nanai have both been electric this year, scoring tries for fun. I don’t know that we’d say the Maroons are rebuilding but their best shot at creating a new dynasty lies in their young talent – and it’s not like these two would be taking the spots of battle-hardened vets who have helped their state win multiple shields.

Jeremiah Nanai

(Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

AJ Mithen (Roar expert)

NSW

1 James Tedesco
2 Josh Addo-Carr
3 Kotoni Staggs
4 Jack Wighton
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Junior Paulo
9 Damien Cook
10 Payne Haas
11 Cam Murray
12 Keaon Koloamatangi
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Matt Burton
15 Liam Martin
16 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
17 Jake Trbojevic

Queensland

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Selwyn Cobbo
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Dane Gagai
5 Xavier Coates
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans
8 Moeaki Fotuaika
9 Harry Grant
10 Josh Papalii
11 Kurt Capewell
12 Felise Kaufusi
13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14 Ben Hunt
15 Patrick Carrigan
16 David Fifita (fitness pending or Jai Arrow)
17 Jeremiah Nanai

I’m punting on the coaches balancing selections on good home and away form mixed with proven Origin performance. I want both sides to be packed with young blokes but that’s not how Origin coaches select – although Billy Slater is the type of fella to do just that.

I think Jack Wighton goes back to the NSW centres, Matt Burton on the bench to take advantage of tiring opposition and I was very close to Api Koroisau as NSW hooker. On the Maroon side, I want Cobbo and Coates on the wings, Mo Fotuaika for the heavy duty early stuff and Nanai and Carrigan to disrupt during the middle 40. 

Xavier Coates. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Danielle Smith (Roar expert)

NSW

1 James Tedesco
2 Josh Addo-Carr
3 Kotoni Staggs
4 Stephen Crichton
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Junior Paulo
9 Reece Robson
10 Payne Haas
11 Ryan Matterson
12 Keaon Koloamatangi
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Scott Drinkwater
15 Nicho Hynes
16 Daniel Saifiti
17 Jake Trbojevic

Queensland

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Selwyn Cobbo
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Dane Gagai
5 Xavier Coates
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans
8 Reuben Cotter
9 Harry Grant
10 Josh Papalii
11 Kurt Capewell
12 Felise Kaufusi
13 Patrick Carrigan
14 Ben Hunt
15 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
16 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
17 Jeremiah Nanai

I said a few weeks ago that Rueben Cotter and Reece Robson should be in the sides, so I have gone all in! And I’ve put Matterson in the run on side – he has been phenomenal.

No David Fifita, and I have reluctantly left Ponga at number one but if the Hammer had a couple more games under his belt after injury he would have been there for sure. I have him on the bench

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

NSW

1 James Tedesco
2 Josh Addo-Carr
3 Stephen Crichton
4 Campbell Graham
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Junior Paulo
9 Damien Cook
10 Payne Haas
11 Angus Crichton
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Nicho Hynes
15 Daniel Saifiti
16 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
17 Keaon Koloamatangi

Queensland

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Corey Oates
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Dane Gagai
5 Murray Taulagi
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans
8 Patrick Carrigan
9 Harry Grant
10 Josh Papalii
11 Kurt Capewell
12 Jai Arrow
13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14 Ben Hunt
15 Moeaki Fotuaika
16 Reuben Cotter
17 Jeremiah Nanai

Injury has meant there are many spots up for grabs this year. 

Where possible I’ve tried to stick with existing and successful combination as well as some players like Tualagi and Hynes who have been in exceptional form. 

Brad Fittler

Brad Fittler (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Stuart Thomas (Roar expert)

NSW

1 James Tedesco
2 Josh Addo-Carr
3 Stephen Crichton
4 Kotoni Staggs
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Jake Trbojevic
9 Damien Cook
10 Payne Haas
11 Cam Murray
12 Hudson Young
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Chad Townsend
15 Junior Paulo
16 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
17 Liam Martin

Queensland

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Xavier Coates
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Dane Gagai
5 Selwyn Cobbo
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans
8 Lindsay Collins
9 Harry Grant
10 Josh Papalii
11 Jeremiah Nanai
12 David Fifita
13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14 Reece Walsh
15 Jai Arrow
16 Felise Kaufusi
17 Patrick Carrigan

It is near impossible to mess with the one through seven in the Blues outfit, with perhaps Siosifa Talakai the one man with strong claims on the centre position likely to be claimed by Stephen Crichton. Up-front, Payne Haas and Jake Trobojevic are walk up starts, with Isaah Yeo not far behind. Despite injury concerns, Cam Murray has earned a spot and Junior Paulo will provide the usual headaches for an opposition defence that will be extremely mindful of his presence.

Reagan Campbell-Gillard deserves a bench spot in my view despite the subs looking perhaps a little top heavy and in-form Chad Townsend should be chosen as a utility/contingency option on the bench. After another superb display for the Raiders, Hudson Young would not look out of place in the starting 13.

Billy Slater would do well to stick with Kalyn Ponga at fullback and use Reece Walsh from the bench as something of an x-factor influence. As a result, I’ve not found room for Ben Hunt as the utility sub and whilst that may raise a few eyebrows, the positional flexibility of Ponga and Valentine Holmes does allow the coach to select a more dynamic player on his bench.

Kurt Capewell has struggled defensively in Origin and in the spirit of avoiding the definition of insanity, it is time the Maroons threw some of its newest weapons at the Blues, with Patrick Carrigan and Jeremiah Nanai likely to play key roles if selected.

Mike Meehall Wood (Roar expert)

NSW

1 James Tedesco
2 Josh Addo-Carr
3 Stephen Crichton
4 Kotoni Staggs
5 Brian To’o
6 Jarome Luai
7 Nathan Cleary
8 Junior Paulo
9 Damien Cook
10 Payne Haas
11 Angus Crichton
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo
14 Jack Wighton
15 Tyson Frizell
16 Reagan Campbell-Gillard
17 David Klemmer

Queensland

1 Reece Walsh
2 Xavier Coates
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Dane Gagai
5 Murray Taulagi
6 Cameron Munster
7 Daly Cherry-Evans
8 Moeaki Fotuaika
9 Harry Grant
10 Josh Papalii
11 Kurt Capewell
12 Felise Kaufusi
13 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14 Ben Hunt
15 Tom Flegler
16 Reuben Cotter
17 Patrick Carrigan

Staggs and Crichton are the clear standout centres ahead of Matt Burton, Siosifa Talakai and Campbell Graham. Given that NSW will pick Yeo as a ball-playing lock, I don’t see why they would also pick Jake Trbojevic. If he’s not touching the ball as often as he does at Manly, he’s essentially a specialist defender.

Cam Murray is likely injured so Angus Crichton goes in for him. My outside pick for the bench would be David Klemmer: he’s currently third among all props for metres per game and would be the perfect middle rotation option.

There’s some mad talk about Selwyn Cobbo in Origin: the guy has had three good games. You’d be picking on potential alone. Taulagi has had 40. He’s my winger, especially as you keep the club combo.

Ponga has not impressed at all at the back this year, so I’d be putting Reece Walsh there. There’s also mad talk about Nanai, who is a good tryscorer but is way down on metres and way up on errors. Unless you’re kicking specifically for him, he’s not playing.

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