Daniel Nichols – Who Should/Will Be In The NSW Origin Side

The New South Wales State of Origin side is set to be named on Sunday night and it seems everybody is talking about who should be selected. Some players are automatic selections (i.e. Gallen, Jennings) whilst other spots are extremely up for grabs (i.e. five-eighth, bench).

In something that is sure to spark much feedback I’ve decided to select the current side I personally would choose to battle the Queenslanders as well as the side I believe will be selected.

Just to let you know that the below are for Origin 1 only and are taking into account injuries to Brett Morris etc.

Team That WILL Be Chosen
1. J. Hayne
2. A. Uate
3. J. Morris
4. M. Jennings
5. B. Ferguson
6. J. Maloney
7. M. Pearce
8. J. Tamou
9. R. Farah
10. T. Grant
11. G. Bird
12. A. Watmough
13. P. Gallen

14. K. Gidley
15. R. Hoffman
16. W. Mason
17. L. Lewis

The Team I Would Choose
1. J. Hayne
2. N. Merritt
3. J. Morris
4. M. Jennings
5. B. Ferguson
6. T. Carney
7. A. Reynolds
8. J. Tamou
9. R. Farah
10. P. Gallen
11. G. Bird
12. A. Watmough
13. R. Hoffman

14. L. Lewis
15. G. Stewart
16. A. Fifita
17. J. Sutton

18th Man: T. Merrin
19th Man: T. Sims

Front Row:
Personally I believe Paul Gallen is far more effective in the front row than he is out wide for both club and state. His man of the match performance a few years ago turned the momentum of the series (for 80 minutes anyways) and rates amongst one of the best Origin performances I have ever seen.

For mine Fifita has been the best forward at the Sharks all season, remarkable considering the team also boasts Paul Gallen and Luke Lewis. His ability to find the line has been match winning and his defence has been second to none. Before the Knights game 2 weeks ago Fifita hadn’t missed a tackle and completed over 200. I’m not sure if he missed a tackle in the past 3 games but even if he has, that is a fantastic stat. I believe he offers more energy and go forward that Willie Mason.

Gallen is likely to play close to 80 minutes meaning Tamou and Fifita can rotate with Watmough moving into the prop rotation if needed. Merrin could come in if there’s an injury in the lead-up and fit straight in with any of the previously mentioned players.

Mitchell Pearce has been tried and tested and has failed. He has numerous opportunities and honestly I can never remember him having a great Origin.

Reynolds is the form halfback of the competition and can land goals from anywhere. Last season NSW went into the series with Todd Carney as kicker. Reynolds kicks at a much higher percentage than Carney. A conversion or tricky penalty goal could be the difference between winning and losing this year and I believe Reynolds is the man for the job.

His kicking game is absolutely fantastic and his running game is better than that of Pearce. Pearce is a good player but he has been unable to lift to Origin level for years now and I don’t see him as the best option this season.

There’s very little between Carney and Maloney so far this season and either man can do the job. Carney had a less than stellar game in Origin 1 last season but had very strong Origins 2 and 3.

The difference in the Sharks attack since Carney has returned to the line-up is remarkable. His running game has been extremely strong and once again his kicking game is spot on more times than not. The big difference between Carney and Maloney though for mine is Carney’s defence.

Twice on the weekend Pomeroy was cut almost in half by Ferguson and co. and Carney was left to make the tackle. Maloney misses more tackles than Carney and has been steamrolled a few times this season.

Surely this is the year Nathan Merritt gets a blue jersey. Brett Morris is injured, Uate is out of form and Hayne will have to play fullback with Stewart injured. Merritt has scored tries for fun again this year and has improved in both defence and under the highball.

The only problem with Merritt is his lack of size… So match him up against Boyd. There isn’t a great deal of difference in size and strength there and surely Merritt’s positional play will be better than that of Boyd being Merritt is a fulltime winger.

The second winger is one I struggled with. It came down to Ferguson or Gordon. Gordon has been there before and did a great job, and can also kick goals from absolutely everywhere, BUT I’d go with Ferguson based on the fact that he could be the X-Factor.

If he can play as he did against Newcastle and Melbourne then the Blues could be on a winner. He didn’t play overly well against Cronulla on the weekend but he didn’t have a shocker either. Either man could do the job but Ferguson could do the job on Inglis in defence.

Straight up, I don’t believe Kurt Gidley belongs in the NSW side. He’s a good player but he’s unable to command a position in even his first grade side. He doesn’t play fullback as Boyd is a better fullback, he doesn’t play in the halves, and is only now at hooker, his fourth choice position. Yes he can play anywhere but if there are injuries Luke Lewis can play anywhere from the centres to the back row, to the halves. Ferguson can also play anywhere from 1-5.

Robbie Farrah is an 80 minute player and to take him off just to justify Gidley’s selection would be madness. If the halves are struggling you can throw John Sutton in as a running 5/8th and move either Reynolds or Carney to the bench as both can play halfback. Sutton has been a machine this season and his pure size alone will give him a big advantage in the Origin cauldron.

I’d go with Glen Stewart over Trent Merrin based on Stewart’s ball playing skills. He can set up a try as well as dig in and make 30 tackles. You wouldn’t lose much with Merrin in the side but Stewart has performed well at Origin level before and should be ok to go. If he at all feels as though he’s not at 100% though after his long layoff earlier, I’d go with Merrin.

Tony Williams isn’t in the best 5 forwards at the Dogs let alone the top 5 forwards in NSW. Mason could do a good job if required and I’m sure Tariq Sims is chomping at the bit to become involved but for mine Lewis, Stewart, Fifita and Sutton all offer versatility and ability in droves.

Michael Jennings is an automatic selection such has been his form this season. Josh Morris played out of his skin last season in Origin and deserves another shot despite his less than fantastic start to 2013. Of course (as I’ve said in a previous article) NSW’s best centre in Jamie Lyon won’t man up and play Origin. Disgusting! He should be there.

Hayne is a game a breaker, there is no doubt. His performances in Origin have been amazing despite his poor club form in years gone by. This season he seems to be entering Origin in decent form so exciting times are ahead for Blues fans.

If Hayne doesn’t turn up mentally the Maroons will have a field day at his expense however Hayne always seems switched on come Origin time. For NSW to be any chance Hayne has to fire.

Robbie Farah is winning a one man race this season. Michael Ennis isn’t knocking on the door with his inconsistent performances so far this season and there isn’t a line of contenders forming behind him either. Farah played very well last season and has been the stand out in a woeful Tigers side this year.

With 2 home games this season and genuine selection headaches mean the blues are in with a good chance at ending Queensland’s record domination. They’ll need to be at their best but the side I’ve chosen above is the one I believe is the best shot at beating those from up North.

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