In my last article I came up with a team made up of the players who were selected the most times in each position for the Maroons, and what an impressive line-up it was, so here’s the equivalent side from the NSW Blues.
Where players were selected an equal number of times in a position, the player who played the most overall games for New South Wales wins the day, if still tied, the player with the most victories gets the nod.
After playing his first Origin match off the bench, Brasher was unchallenged for the NSW No.1 jersey throughout the 1990s and played in six winning series for the Blues. James Tedesco, with 19 games at the back, should overtake Brasher in the 2023 series.
Wishart played in every series from 1990 to 1998 and scored 66 points along the way.
O’Connor was one of NSW’s best between 1995 and 1991 and still holds the record for the most points for NSW and is also equal top try-scorer for the Blues, along with Jarryd Hayne.
Jennings debuted in 2009 but his only series win between 2009 and 2016 came in the 2014 series.
One of the first players picked for NSW when he was available and was a very consistent and reliable performer.
Fittler holds the record for most Origins for NSW and after playing his first two games off the bench, was one of the first players selected for NSW, playing either five-eighth, centre or lock. He just takes the position from fellow great in Laurie Daley, who played five-eighth 14 times in his 23-game Origin career.
Johns played five games at hooker in 1996 and 1997 when Geoff Toovey was preferred at halfback, and NSW won both series. He also played two games off the bench in 2000 with Brett Kimmorley in the 7 jersey and Toovey at hooker. Go figure?
Interestingly, Mitchell Pearce has played the same number of games at halfback as Johns but misses the side on the basis that Johns played more Origins overall.
Harragon debuted in the front row in 1992 but then spent four games in the second row across 1992 and 1993, during which he scored his only two Origin tries.
Buderus played in seven Origin series in a row without missing a game, a remarkable achievement that might have gone on even longer but for him heading to the Super League in 2009.
Roach played his first Origin in 1984 and his last in 1991, and interestingly was the only survivor from the 1984 NSW side by the time 1991 rolled around.
For trivia buffs, Hindmarsh debuted in the NSW second row in Game 1, 2001 alongside his now TV buddy Bryan Fletcher.
Hoffman debuted off the bench for two games in 2007, played every game in 2008 and then spent the next four years out of favour with Origin selectors. He was recalled in 2013 and didn’t miss a game for the next three years.
Paul Gallen played in a record 11 consecutive Origin series for NSW, and only Fittler – with 12 – played in more for NSW. Unfortunately, Gallen won only nine of the 24 games he played, and captained NSW between 2011 to 2016 for just one series win.
That’s a pretty good team by any measure, and the selected players have a total of 262 Origins between them, but that’s some 124 fewer than the team selected for Queensland.
Still, NSW has a very good spine, plenty of points in the backs and a no-nonsense pack, and would push the Maroons for the whole 80 minutes.
The selection criteria resulted in some notable casualties though, including:
• Andrew Etingshausen – 27 games, and sitting second on the NSW most games list, ET misses out due to his versatility, having spread his Origin games across fullback, centre and wing, and even a couple of games off the bench.
• Laurie Daley – 23 games, with 14 at five-eighth and nine in the centres.
• Jarryd Hayne – 23 games, 13 on the wing and 10 at either fullback or centre.
• Steve Menzies – 20 games, 14 off the bench and six in the second row.