State of Origin is right around the corner, and plenty of names are being thrown around as potential bolters for the Blues side. The in-form Dragons forward Paul Vaughan, and electrifying Trbojevic brothers, headline a list of stars waiting to debut for the New South Wales side.
However there is plenty of depth for Laurie Daley to choose from, and not all the in-form New South Welshmen have had their names put in the mixing hat. A few players have been putting their hand up for selection this season, but have seemingly gone un-noticed.
The following list is compiled of the un-sung NSW bolters.
Don has taken his game to a new level in 2017, fast becoming one of the most dangerous wingers in the competition. He has formed a damaging combination with his inside center Konrad Hurrell, and is getting the job done for the Gold Coast Titans.
He is deceptively quick for a big man, at 188cm tall and 97kg; Don is one of the biggest wingers in the game. He’s also fantastic in the air, and contributes a great deal in helping his team out of their own end. Don has 3 tries in 6 games so far in 2017, as well as a meat pie for Country in the City v Country fixture.
The oxymoron ‘Big Junior’ definitely applies for this Canberra enforcer. With all the origin talk on his Raiders front row partner Shannon Boyd, Paulo has slipped under the radar in terms of his name being talked up for selection. The big man deserves to have his name in the mix somewhere, as he has been one of the most damaging forwards in the game in 2017.
For comparison, Boyd is running on average about 84 metres a game, off the back of an average of 9 runs per game. Paulo is running an average of 144 metres per game, off an average of 15 runs per game. Paulo also has 96% tackle success rate, compared to Boyd’s 92%.
The ‘Ross Dog’ has earned a lot of respect from rugby league pundits over the last 12 months, as he’s put in continually impressive performances for an overall disappointing Knights side. Having debuted at age 26, Ross is somewhat of a late bloomer, but he’s made up for lost time, scoring 18 career tries in just 34 games.
Ross has 6 tries in 8 games for the Knights this season; he’s making plenty of metres for his side as well, averaging a touch over 150 metres per game. Add another 20 tackle busts and 5 line breaks to his 2017 tally, and you’ve got a genuine NSW contender. Not to mention his recent representative appearance for City.
The Wests Tigers powerhouse winger has been in some scintillating form to start the 2017 season. The Tigers have been less than impressive at points this year, but Nofoaluma has continued to put 100% into every game. He’s been close to the Tigers best, and I believe he has the ability to do a job for NSW.
‘Nofa’ has 3 tries in 10 games so far this season, but try scoring isn’t the most valuable part of his game. He’s averaging just under 175 metres per game for his side, an incredible stat for a winger to have. He’s second in the league for offloads (32) and third in the league for tackle busts (65) and has made 7 line breaks.
The Parramatta forward is in career best form, after moving to the Eels from South Sydney last season. He’s relishing a starting role in the number 13 jersey, and has become known as one the game’s hard men. Brown has built up a reputation as a bit of a ‘dirty player’. They type of player NSW may need.
Brown has impressed everyone so far in 2017, playing 9 games, running over 1200 metres, making 18 offloads, making 280 tackles and busting 16. He’s pushed his way into a solid starting forward pack at the Eels, and has a good all round game. Good enough to line up for the Blues on the 31st of May.
The talented playmaker has been by far the best this season in a Rabbitohs side that has underperformed. His ability to break tackles and create opportunities for himself and others is a quality that is hard to teach. With so much speculation going into who the halves will be for NSW, could Walker be a bolter for the number 6?
So far in 2017, Walker has scored 4 tries and registered 11 try assists. For a player that has spent most of their time in the halves, Walker is running 112 metres on average each game, almost 40 more on average than Michael Morgan, and almost 20 more on average than Anthony Milford, two of the games best running 5/8’s.
It’s very unlikely that any of these men will get chosen, but it’s about time they were given some recognition for the form they are all in. Origin is a hotly contested battle, and it takes more than just a handful of stats and bit of talent to be successful in the origin arena. However I believe if any of the men listed above were to be selected, they would do a fine job.