All of the hottest takes on State of Origin selections!
|Pictured: Classic Origin moment of Sam Thaiday running faster|
than for any of his hit-ups to make the fight numbers uneven. Could be
from literally any Origin he's played in.
A decision will be made on Johnathan Thurston's fitness before the weekend. There is no way Wayne Bennett will stand for Anthony Milford missing the Broncos game if he's not definitely playing for Queensland.
It is the correct call to omit Billy Slater. Darius Boyd is the best fullback in the NRL now. He is not one of the best two wingers available for Queensland. Playing Slater would weaken both positions. Especially when, with Greg Inglis injured, Boyd at wing can't just catch an offload from the Souths star and jog five metres untouched like every single Origin try he's scored ever.
, Valentine Holmes has gone from playing for Australia to not bring picked for Queensland. That doesn't make a lot of sense, but Queensland like to stay loyal when winning, and the backline was very good last year without the Sharks winger.
Loyalty is the only thing keeping Nate Myles and Aidan Guerra in the team - both are below average first grade players now. If Queensland lose game one, both are finished. Jarrod Wallace and Felise Kaufusi to replace. Coen Hess still one year off.
New South Wales
Jarryd Hayne will deliver for New South Wales, despite his lack of club form since returning from the NFL. He is the only player to have consistently threatened Queensland in attack over the last ten years.
By contrast, Josh Dugan coming straight back from injury seems like a risk not worth taking. If he's ruled out early, Jack Bird to centre and Matt Moylan to the bench looks reassuring.
Nathan Peats is the right selection at hooker, by default. You can't pick Robbie Farah when he's maybe not even the best hooker at his club. With Peter Wallace injured, there aren't any other viable options.
On the one hand, Mitchell Pearce is the best halfback from New South Wales, and perhaps always has been. On the other hand, he's lost a lot of matches and holds no fear for Queensland. Maybe Pearce could have been picked at hooker? He can play straight and direct, and is a strong defender.
Trent Merrin and Shannon Boyd join Holmes as players good enough for their country but not their state. In their cases, it may be warranted on current form.