True blue: A fan’s take on whether New South Wales selectors got the balance right for Game 1


It’s been three days since the naming of the New South Wales State of Origin team that has created plenty of debate from all sides.

So I wanted to weigh in with my two cents and debate whether the selectors got it right in all the positions.

Fullback and three-quarters

Dylan Edwards, Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton, Joseph Sua’ali’i and Zac Lomax

I was probably leaning towards Teddy at fullback, but surely no one can begrudge Edwards his selection. There’s definitely a good feel to the back five.

All are capable of running big metres out of their own end and three high ball targets. The cons are a lack of raw pace and Lomax’s propensity for the big highlight reel play.

It could make him an Origin legend or another Blues one-gamer. Edwards’ selection is probably an indicator that NSW plans to play more direct than in recent years.

Who lines up on which side of the field? Crichton and Sua’ali’i have both been playing right centre, although Crichton can play either side and Sua’ali’i has played left wing.

It’s a similar story on the wing. To’o plays left and Lomax right, although To’o can play either. Putting Critta to the left would reunite the old Panthers combo.

It would also mean NSW has two debutants lining up together – which will definitely give Queensland a target.


Jarome Luai and Nicho Hynes

Jarome Luai looks to pass. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Madge’s first big question will be how long does he give Hynes in camp to show he’s over his calf strain. The second question is who comes in for him?

Keary has struggled at Number 7 over the past few seasons, while Luai has looked increasingly at home there in Nathan Cleary’s absence.

It seems pretty straightforward that should they line up as per program that Hynes plays right and Luai left. Keary and Luai is not so clear.

It seems like madness to have a player like Hynes under such a heavy injury cloud and not have backline cover on the bench.

Middle third

Payne Haas, Jake Trbojevic (C) and Cam McInnes

Haas is an auto pick. He’s clearly the Blues metre man in the forwards with grafters picked around him. Does that mean the Queenslanders can target Haas every time he runs?

Jurbo is a great pick as captain, although I’m sure he’ll share the duties with Isaah Yeo.

He’s one of those players who’ll make his hit-ups, make his tackles and snap the odd Queenslander when needed. His absence is more noticeable than his presence but he’d still be close to the first forward I’d pick.

Obviously, McInnes is not going to lead the team in carries or run metres, but he’ll be leading the defensive line speed and working his backside off. Probably also gets the job as Nicho’s bodyguard.

Jake Trbojevic. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)


Reece Robson

Obviously doesn’t have the attacking chops of someone like Api Koroisau, but I think he gets unfairly maligned as a defensive 9.

Robson leads hookers in the NRL in run metres, is equal fourth for try assists and is equal first for line break assists. So he’s not just there for his tackling.

The query is how effective he’ll be playing the full 80 minutes. He plays the whole game every week, but we know Origin is another 20% faster.

Back row

Liam Martin and Angus Crichton

Crichton’s form has been irresistible all season and he’s another insta-selection.

Martin has been down a little this season for mine. He’s never been a player whose contributions show up large on a stat sheet. He’ll lead the line speed and make the big effort plays when needed.

Martin sat out the second half against the Sharks with a hamstring concern. Was that a genuine concern or just a precaution?


Isaah Yeo, Haumaole Olakau’atu, Spencer Leniu and Hudson Young

This is where the selections get most interesting. Yeo’s ability to ball play is one of his key strengths as a player.

What NSW has failed to understand is that his best ball playing comes off the back of him playing direct and straight, not crabbing across field trying to pick up ball runners.

Criminally misused, Yeo was finally given a direct role in game three last year and killed it. Funnily enough Ivan Cleary was an “advisor” in the blues box at the time. Coincidence?

Isaah Yeo. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

There’s no problem picking either Young or Olakau’atu on the bench, but does NSW need both? This gives us a squad with four back rowers who are averaging 66, 68, 79 and 80 minutes per week.

Seems like one too many. Is this a ducks and drakes pick from Madge? Is one of them there as cover in case Martin isn’t fit? Does one drop out to allow utility cover – especially for Hynes?

Leniu might not have been the guy I picked, but I can’t argue with his selection. With his long suspension, he’s got relatively fresh legs.

He becomes a key player in this lineup with his ability to provide impact, energy and mongrel into the middle rotation as opposed to the honest graft of guys like Jurbo, Yeo and McInnes.

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Extended bench

Matt Burton, Luke Keary and Mitch Barnett

Interesting to see who gets the start of Hynes isn’t fit. Is it as simple as Keary being selected as Nicho’s shadow? Probably. It would be a decent reshuffle to move Luai to 7 and Burton to 6.

I can’t see Matt Burton not starting from the bench. How many times does NSW need to get caught without cover before they learn?

I wouldn’t mind seeing Barnett get a start at some stage during the series, but surely he’s just injury cover for Game 1?

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