NSW are ready to end 8 years of QLD dominance in Orign.
They have finally picked halves in form, in Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds.Former NSW hlaf back Mitchell Pearce is one of those players who is great at club level, but horrible at representative level. The great players go to another level (see entire QLD team) in Origin, but Pearce has never done this.
They have players at the top of their game; Jarryd Hayne has been in remarkable form for the resurgent Parramatta Eels and to shunt the fullback to the wing would have been a great injustice not seen since Nathan Blacklock was continually denied a NSW jersey despite leading the try scoring charts three years in a row from 1999-2001.
With Hayne at fullback, the tallest winger ever (probably) Daniel Tupou lines up on one wing in his debut and the best winger in the world, Brett Morris lines up on the other wing. I like it so far. A centre pairing of Josh Morris and Michael Jennings is excellent, especially Jennings who has lightning speed and will torment the QLD defence all night. Morris has shown in the past he can handle Inglis.
The halves picked themselves, leading the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs to the top of the NRL ladder. They are very different, with Reynolds more off-the-cuff and instinctive, and Hodkinson very controlled and professional and that’s just what NSW needs.
I love that Beau Scott is back in Origin, he is tough, relentless and won’t take a backwards step. With skipper Paul Gallen, they will really get in the faces of the QLD forwards who are used to walking all over the NSW pack. It’s a shame that Greg Bird isn’t in the team, but he should be back for game two.
The bench looks promising with Merrin a very good off-loader and has great footwork, while Watmough and Lewis will bring that experience if it gets a bit tough out in the middle. Williams is the concern; he can be great, bumping off half a dozen would be tacklers on his way to the line, or he can be awful, lazy and can have issues with his hands. Jamal Idris would have been a better option in my opinion.
I am a little concerned that there is no utility on the bench, I picked Mitch Rein in my team a few weeks ago, but Farah can easily play the full 80 minutes. He has great play making abilities, especially his little grubbers from dummy half. I worry that if he goes down, our dummy half options are limited, to maybe Lewis to five eighth and Reynolds to hooker.
NSW needs to control their emotions, a tough ask with Reynolds, Scott and Gallen in the side. They need to play smart football and play to their strengths, which are their wingers and halves. Kick high for Tupou who is almost impossible to out leap, and look for Hayne with off loads and inside passes, especially late in the half when the QLD forwards are tiring.
NSW are ready to win, they just need to back themselves and take every opportunity that comes their way.