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The NSW Blues team for Origin I: The experts have their say

1. Parramatta Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne. Click for more photos

The Fairfax Media readers' NSW squad for Origin I

Fairfax Media asked the readers to vote, position by position, on the NSW team for this month's State of Origin opener. Photo: Getty Images

Click here to see the final poll results for each position

Michael Chammas:

NSW need both Jarryd Hayne and Josh Dugan in the team if they are any chance of leaving Suncorp Stadium with a series lead.

The 17-man NSW team as chosen by Fairfax Media poll respondents.

The 17-man NSW team as chosen by Fairfax Media poll respondents.

Hayne's best position is fullback, but if he plays in the No.1, there's no room for Josh Dugan in the team.

You could play Hayne on the wing or in the centres, but on his day he can be the most influential player on the field.

If Laurie Daley is seriously considering playing Greg Bird at five-eighth, then Hayne is a genuine option.

In Origin, the halves have a little opportunity to create anything. It's about the battle for field position and individual brilliance.

Hayne has the biggest boot in the game and is more than capable of turning a game on its head.

Could you imagine the headaches NSW will cause with Hayne and Dugan lurking around the middle of the field?

I've picked Michael Gordon on the wing, mainly for his goal kicking otherwise Daniel Tupou or Jorge Taufua would have been in my side.

Aaron Woods has been left out based on his performance for the Blues last year.

He struggled to make an impact or leave a dent in the Queensland defence, which is why I've gone with Trent Merrin and Andrew Fifita on the bench.

Jamal Idris is on the bench because he can cover the forwards and backs, but will also be effective as an impact player late in the match.

1. Josh Dugan

2. Brett Morris

3. Michael Jennings

4. Josh Morris

5. Michael Gordon

6. Jarryd Hayne

7. Mitchell Pearce

8. James Tamou

9. Robbie Farah

10. Paul Gallen

11. Boyd Cordner

12. Luke Lewis

13. Greg Bird

14. Andrew Fifita

15. Trent Merrin

16. Anthony Watmough

17. Jamal Idris

 

Brad Walter:

The Blues have fallen just short of ending Queensland's winning streak in each of the past two series so most of the squad deserve to be retained but the age old problems of who to play five-eighth and which position to select Jarryd Hayne remain.

Given Hayne's form at right centre for Australia in the World Cup and his brilliant start to the season at fullback for Parramatta, his days of playing on the wing are over. It then really comes down to a choice between Josh Dugan or Michael Jennings.

With no clear cut winner I would select Hayne in his regular position at fullback where he can roam anywhere on the field in attack.

There is also no standout five-eighth option who NSW coach Laurie Daley can't ignore so I would turn the clock back and pick Greg Bird in that role. He won't let the Blues down defensively and Hayne plays like a second five-eighth in attack anyway.

In the absence of James Maloney at five-eighth, the team needs a goalkicker and there is none better than Pat Richards, who would fill the wing spot vacated by Hayne. Richards recently kicked a penalty goal against Gold Coast from halfway so any infringement by the Maroons within their own half could be worth two points.

Richards has also turned kick-offs into a tactical advantage for the defending team, can drop kick 70 metres, has landed a field goal from the sideline in Super League, where he won the 2010 Man-of-Steel award as player of the year playing on the wing for Wigan.

He also has size and the experience of having played in Challenge Cup finals, grand finals and World Club Challenge finals with Wigan and Wests Tigers.

1. Jarryd Hayne

2. Brett Morris

3. Josh Morris

4. Michael Jennings

5. Pat Richards

6. Greg Bird

7. Mitchell Pearce

8. Aaron Woods

9. Robbie Farah

10. James Tamou

11. Anthony Watmough

12. Boyd Cordner

13. Paul Gallen

14. Josh Reynolds

15. Luke Lewis

16. Andrew Fifita

17. Trent Merrin

 

Adrian Proszenko:

I agonised over the five-eighth spot, but concluded it was better to stick with last year's halves rather than starting all over again.

There were enough positive signs from James Maloney on Friday night to suggest he had overcome his shoulder problem. Jarryd Hayne has been playing his best football since his Dally M year and would probably prefer to stay at the back, but having him and Josh Dugan in the team provides added strike.

I don't think Blues selectors will go with Pat Richards but he's in my team - he's experienced, good in the air and can kick goals if required. The Maroons won't enjoy fielding his kick-offs. Daniel Tupou's time will come. Paul Gallen will have the 13 on his back but plays like a pseudo prop, allowing the Blues to carry an extra back-rower on the bench.

Josh Reynolds provides halves/hooker cover, which will be valuable insurance given the lack of recent game time for James Maloney and Robbie Farah.  As far as the back row goes, I'd like to see how Luke Lewis recovers from a long injury lay-off before deciding if he's ready for the Origin cauldron.

1. Josh Dugan

2. Brett Morris

3. Jarryd Hayne

4. Josh Morris

5. Pat Richards

6. James Maloney

7. Mitchell Pearce

8. James Tamou

9. Robbie Farah

10. Aaron Woods

11. Greg Bird

12. Boyd Cordner/Luke Lewis

13. Paul Gallen

14. Trent Merrin

15. Andrew Fifita

16. Anthony Watmough

17. Josh Reynolds

 

Michael Carayannis:

I’ve gone for a big and aggressive NSW team. James Maloney keeps his spot because of goal kicking. Heading to Queensland to play the Maroons in the opening match is always going to be a slogfest.

NSW will need to grind the Queenslanders down and try and be physical with them. The bench is full of impact and guys with great footwork which will try and catch the Maroons big men getting lazy in the middle of the field. Having Scott, Bird and Cordner in the squad also offers versatility should someone get inured in the halves or outside backs. Tupou’s height advantage will also be a focal point of attack, targeting the much smaller Darius Boyd on the wing.

These players are in form and will help combat the ageing Queensland line-up. Hayne goes back to fullback at the expense of the unlucky Dugan, but Hayne needs to touch the ball as much as he can. This allows Idris to add to his one-off appearance for the Blues.

1. Jarryd Hayne

2. Brett Morris

3. Jamal Idris

4. Josh Morris

5. Daniel Tupou

6. James Maloney

7. Mitchell Pearce

8. James Tamou

9. Robbie Farah

10. Aaron Woods

11. Greg Bird

12. Beau Scott

13. Paul Gallen

14. Trent Merrin

15. Andrew Fifita

16. Anthony Watmough

17. Boyd Cordner

 

Daniel Lane:

Some subtle changes would put the old heads on notice that their futures as Origin players rely on their performances in the series opener. Hayne must be named at fullback because apart from starring there for Parramatta this is a game where players need to know their teammates are rock solid. From an outsider's perspective and it has been formed by unflattering headlines and reputation the incumbent Josh Dugan puts a question mark on his jumper.

Pat Richards offers strength on the wing and as a proven tryscorer he fills Hayne's old spot. With James Maloney not in this side the Blues need Richards as their goalkicker and that gives him the edge over Daniel Tupou. His unique style to restart play - where he boots the ball from off a tee to provide hang time - is also a potent weapon.

Reynolds has been pivotal for top-of-the-table Canterbury's rise this season and his relationship with Bulldogs centre Josh Morris will be vital because the Blues must deliver the ball to the fringes. Along with the front row the centres pairing of Jennings and Morris are this NSW team's greatest strengths.  If Robbie Farah is fit, he stays at hooker but if not, there’s a ready-made replacement in Michael Ennis.  

Tony Williams has been much maligned since he joined the Bulldogs from Manly but he's timed his State of Origin run well and should be conscripted to add his explosiveness to a game that demands hulking, damaging men off the bench. Based on his effort for City Origin (and in recent weeks, Canterbury) Williams pipped Trent Merrin and Josh Jackson for his place. However, he MUST hurt Queensland to retain his jersey.

1. Jarryd Hayne 

2. Brett Morris

3. Michael Jennings 

4. Josh Morris

5. Pat Richards

6. Josh Reynolds

7. Mitchell Pearce

8. Aaron Woods

9. Robbie Farah/Michael Ennis

10. James Tamou

11. Greg Bird 

12. Ryan Hoffman

13. Paul Gallen (c)

14. Andrew Fifita 

15. Boyd Cordner 

16. Tony Williams

17. Anthony Watmough

38 comments so far

  • The halves, no matter who NSW pick, will be the difference. Qld 9 in a row. If Qld start DCE over Cronk it will be 3-0. Unfortunatley Reynolds, Reynolds, Carney, Pearce and Moloney are not up to origin level

    Commenter
    rayj
    Date and time
    May 10, 2014, 10:55PM
    • NSW must have at least one deadly offensive player off the bench. Jennings or Idris.

      Only Idris has the X factor NSW require.

      NSW will fail if they wheel out the same recipe from the past 3 seasons.

      Commenter
      jg
      Location
      Canberra
      Date and time
      May 11, 2014, 12:45PM
    • Is there any way we can make Ricky Stuart the QLD coach? NSW might win 10 in a row if we could arrange that.

      Commenter
      Glasnost
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      May 11, 2014, 1:09PM
    • Might have some truth, but you miss the point. No half becomes of Origin standard through birth or home-and-away rounds. They have big form dips when they enter Origin - like Reynolds/Mullen mini dip in City-Country, but way bigger. They're targetted by raging bulls, go missing, make errors under huge pressure. See Mullen, Anasta, Finch, Soward in recent Origin years. Origin level is reached by playing and winning high-pressure, tough semi finals, grand finals, Origin games and internationals.

      Eg, 1995: NSW were down a few players (SuperLeague signings), but Qld were down full squad - replaced with 'Vautins nobodies'. A promising, skillful, tough NSW half debuted (after 2 and a bit years' NRL experience) - Andrew Johns. Result: 3-0 to Qld; biggest favourites in Origin history beaten.

      After this, Johns played in a number of semis, won a grand final, played internationals and further Origins. Result: developed to superstar level, developed strong team combinations, an era of NSW dominance.

      Same story for Thurston - and for Lockyer when he first transferred to the halves and lost a couple of series. And going back to greats like Kenny, Lamb, Mortimer and Daley. These players started with losing records, but after 2 or 3 years, turned them into winning records. And those who had Origin success from the start (Stuart, Toovey, Dymock, Kimmorley, Cronk, DCE) have always preceded with semi/GF/international success and already reached the very top level of halfbacks, they've usually been very tough (perhaps not Kimmorley), and often joined an already winning team and/or been blooded gradually.

      Injecting unproven players into key positions is a recipe for going backwards very quickly.

      Commenter
      Fo Real
      Date and time
      May 12, 2014, 11:44AM
  • I suspect that once again Qld will find someone old enough to tearfully announce their retirement to give them the emotional fizz they run on so well. Players like Darius Boyd, who's had a shocker for Newcastle all year, would find that little bit extra.
    Could be Slaters turn this year. He seems to be past it and they have an even better replacement. Maybe Mal or one of the coaches will quietly tap him on the shoulder, ay.
    Let's see what happens if they're one down or one all.
    Should be a great series anyway. Bring it on.

    Commenter
    paulie
    Location
    Tighes Hill
    Date and time
    May 11, 2014, 12:28AM
    • Yeah, I can see what you mean about Slater being finished. Two tries against Manly last night was another strong indicator of his decline.

      Commenter
      Brian
      Date and time
      May 11, 2014, 7:46AM
    • That.

      Commenter
      The Hand
      Location
      NSW South Coast
      Date and time
      May 11, 2014, 12:47PM
  • Pretty bold calling this team 'experts' when every one of them picks the out of form and hopelessly out of his depth Mitchell Pearce at #7. The kid is a myth.

    Commenter
    CWB
    Location
    Nanjing, China
    Date and time
    May 11, 2014, 12:30AM
    • I agree, not one smh writer even considered not picking him. No way should he be a certain selection. As a halfback you need to create and have a good kicking game, neither of which Pearce has shown to possess based on the past umpteen origin series. Please Laurie, have the guts to pick someone else (Mullen, A. Reynolds, Hodkinson, anyone but Pearce). You'll actually be doing Pearce a favour as I'm sure he's sick of the criticism.

      Commenter
      Muzza
      Date and time
      May 11, 2014, 7:24AM
    • All their opinions became null and void as soon as they picked Pearce at #7. Experts Roflmao

      Commenter
      the watcher
      Date and time
      May 11, 2014, 8:41AM

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