Out of Origin: There’s enough injured talent to form a quality line-up as coaches face selection dilemmas for game one


The statistical weight of history is against the team that loses game one in a State of Origin series. 

It’s only happened nine times in the 42 series since the advent of the three-match contest in 1982. 

And often the rot sets in well before kickoff in the series opener at the selection table. 

Cast your mind back 12 months when you first heard that the Blues had picked Tevita Pangai jnr as a starting prop for a readymade example of how a snowball can turn into an avalanche. 

For new Blues coach Michael Maguire and Queensland’s Billy Slater as he tries to lift the shield for the third time in as many attempts, the best-laid plans of Cockroaches and Cane Toads have gone awry due to a raft of injuries. 

You could cobble together a top-quality combined Out of Origin squad of the unavailable stars. 

Out of Origin

1 Kalyn Ponga 
2 Tom Trbojevic 
3 Kotoni Staggs 
4 Bradman Best
5 Campbell Graham
6 Cameron Munster 
7 Nathan Cleary 
8 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
9 Wayde Egan
10 Tom Flegler 
11 Cameron Murray
12 Kurt Capewell 
13 Tom Gilbert 
14 Mitchell Moses 
15 Ryan Papenhuyzen 
16 Corey Horsburgh
17 Coen Hess 
18 Clint Gutherson

With these names off the table, here are the crucial calls facing both teams when they finalise their sides on Sunday after making sure no more big names are ruled out from the remaining matches in Round 12. 


Fullback: Dylan Edwards over James Tedesco. Maguire needs to be bold. There will never be a better time to make a change in this key position. No one is saying Tedesco is washed up or hasn’t been an outstanding performer for the Blues but he is no longer the best option at fullback, plain and simple. 

Left wing: Joseph Suaalii ahead of Josh Addo-Carr or Zac Lomax. The pre-selection chatter had been that Lomax was in front but now Suaalii is firming for a debut. He would give the Blues an edge in height out wide for aerial contests, especially with Selwyn Cobbo and Xavier Coates likely to be on the Queensland flanks. Addo-Carr’s impact has waned since he joined the Bulldogs last year and does not seem to possess the same explosive speed off the mark that made him the NRL’s premier attacking threat when he was at Melbourne. 

Brian To’o is tackled. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Centre: Jesse Ramien to partner Stephen Crichton. With Crichton able to play either side, Ramien is a right-side specialist and with Bradman Best and Kotoni Staggs injured, the Sharks star should get a debut unless Matt Burton is snubbed for five-eighth and needed out wide. Latrell Mitchell does not deserve a recall based on his limited appearances for Souths this season. 

Five-eighth: Burton over Jarome Luai or Cody Walker. Big bodies at five-eighth tend to fare better. He’s been in superior form in the key areas for a five-eighth and would be a complementary option alongside Nicho Hynes at halfback. 

Left-edge forward: Angus Crichton. The Roosters veteran’s recent form resurgence has solved a headache for Maguire. He should get the nod ahead of uncapped right-sided Manly forward Haumole Olakau’atu and Canberra leftie Hudson Young. 

Middles: Payne Haas is a definite to be the NSW pack leader with Isaah Yeo to be the link with the halves and Jake Trbojevic and Cameron McInnes doing the dirty work. That leaves a spot for Stefano Utoikamanu or Reagan Campbell-Gillard to get the nod ahead of the Saifiti twins from around Newcastle way. 

Bench impact: Olakau’atu and Young are probably fighting over one spot unless the Blues pick both second-towers and switch Crichton or Liam Martin into the middle mid-game. Young has the speed to fill in at centre at a pinch rather than the Blues picking a designated utility back like they did with Clint Gutherson in Origin III and he warmed the bench for 77 minutes.

Blues team

1 Dylan Edwards
2 Brian To’o
3 Stephen Crichton
4 Jesse Ramien
5 Joseph Suaalii
6 Matt Burton
7 Nicho Hynes 
8 Payne Haas 
9 Api Koroisau
10 Jake Trbojevic 
11 Angus Crichton 
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaah Yeo (c) 
14 Cameron McInnes
15 Haumole Olakau’atu 
16 Hudson Young 
17 Stefano Utoikamanu
18 Reagan Campbell-Gillard 


Right edge: Valentine Holmes (judiciary pending) and Coates will link on the left, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Selwyn Cobbo are set to form a combination on the right. The Hammer has excelled at fullback this year after being shunted back and forth between centre at the Dolphins last year. Cobbo has excelled at centre for the Broncos after moving in from the wing but unless Holmes is rubbed out for a hip drop, he will revert to the flank for the Maroons ahead of Murray Taulagi. 

Five-eighth: Tom Dearden is next in line although Ezra Mam is the more dynamic option. The Maroons don’t work that way. Slater has reinforced how Queensland like players to pay their dues to earn their fabled jersey and although Mam’s more likely to create points, Dearden’s a better bet to ensure the Maroons don’t concede more than they should. 

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Pack leader: Carrigan to ruffle feathers without Tino. The Maroons have always had a forward who gets under the Blues’ skin with Felise Kaufusi and Josh Papali’i in recent years following in the footsteps of Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday and co. Fa’asuamaleaui had taken the torch but with the towering Titan recovering from knee surgery, Carrigan appears Queensland’s best bet to get in the Blues’ faces in concert with fellow big bopper Lindsay Collins and workhorse Reuben Cotter. 

Back-up bench: Moeaki Fotuaika is likely to fill the role of providing relief off the bench in the middle with Tom Flegler out. J’maine Hopgood, Christian Welch and a left-field option like Kobe Hetherington could also fill an interchange berth. 

Maroons team

1 Reece Walsh 
2 Xavier Coates
3 Valentine Holmes
4 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
5 Selwyn Cobbo
6 Tom Dearden
7 Daly Cherry-Evans (c) 
8 Lindsay Collins 
9 Ben Hunt
10 Reuben Cotter
11 David Fifita
12 Jeremiah Nanai
13 Patrick Carrigan
14 Harry Grant
15 J’maine Hopgood
16 Moeaki Fotuaika
17 Christian Welch 
18 Ezra Mam 

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