State of Origin: Hot or cold, Round 9
Another Round of NRL is complete, which State of Origin contenders improved their chances and which players are further from a rep jersey.
As State of Origin approaches, we thought it would be a good idea to run the rule over the contenders to see what sort of form they’re in. We’ll break it down game by game.
Broncos vs Bulldogs
Will Hopoate (NSW) – Hopoate has the versatility to offer the Blues a solid option across any backline position, but on Thursday we were reminded of his attacking qualities that initially got him a representative jersey when he was a teenager. 179 metres with a line break and also a try assist from a kick infield, plus a key kick diffusal and a forced drop out – Hoppa Jr had an excellent all-round game.
Joe Ofahengaue (QLD) – With so many injuries in the Maroons’ forward stocks, a big man like young Joe could be a smokey. He did his chances no harm with a key try under the posts to draw level late in the game and his 25 tackles and 124 metres off the bench.
Corey Oates (QLD) – Oates’ hot form continues with a try and 155 run metres. It seems unlikely that he’ll jump Darius Boyd or Val Holmes in the queue for a left-wing position, but he’s applying pressure.
David Klemmer (NSW) – Starting from the bench, Klemmer bent the Broncos line for 124 metres and intimidated his opponents with some stinging defence, including a big hit on young Payne Haas to welcome him to first grade.
James Roberts (NSW) – Was a quiet game for most of it, but when his team needed him he went looking for the ball, laying on a try assist and then making a break and kicking in-field for the match-winning penalty with a minute to play. Big moment player.
Darius Boyd (QLD) – While throwing an impressive pass to put Oates over for a try had a number of commentators clamoring to heap praise on Boyd, it was his errors that had me worried. He looks like a man lacking in confidence. Considering he’ll likely be a winger in Origin, his try assists don’t matter; his confidence does though.
Jack Bird (NSW) – Bird was completely ineffective on Thursday night before he was hooked with 12 minutes left to play and the game on the line. Must surely be omitted from the Origin set up, no matter how talented he is.
Knights vs Rabbitohs
Kalyn Ponga (QLD)- Probably the best player on the field after his team was beaten by 18 points; the kid is a freak. I still think he beats no one into the Origin side for Origin 1, but his ability to lay on tries on both sides of the field will have Queensland fans licking their lips.
Adam Reynolds (NSW) – That vacant halfback spot will likely prove to be a headache for Brad Fittler, especially now that Reynolds has applied pressure with a nicely polished performance including 2 try assists, over 500 kick metres and a forced drop out.
Damien Cook (NSW) – A try, 39 tackles, 4 tackle breaks and 119 run metres and it’s not even his best game of the year; just give him the number 9 jersey now!
Alex Johnston (NSW) – 2 try assists and 3 line breaks; Johnston has evolved his game in 2018 to become one of NSW’s best options at fullback. Considering Tedesco has that position pretty locked up, Johnston’s best chance is on the wing and he has the speed and elusiveness to do a great job if given the chance.
Jacob Lillyman (QLD) – Despite the injuries the Maroons are experiencing in their forwards, it looks like Lillyman’s 14 match Origin career has ended.
Panthers vs Cowboys
Gavin Cooper (QLD) – How nice was it to see Cooper score a try on that left-edge? Combine that with his 33 tackles and 2 line breaks and Cooper is looking very likely to secure a back-row spot for Origin 1.
Coen Hess (QLD) – 39 tackles, 5 tackle breaks and a try save; Hess is a shoe-in for a bench spot because of his explosive ability and his versatility, which allows him to play on an edge or in the middle depending on the needs of the team.
Matt Scott (QLD) – The great players peak at the right time. It looked like Paul Green moved Matt Scott a pass wider on the left side where he could mix up his strong running game with ball playing, including a nice short-ball to put Cooper through a hole. Also had a key try save close to their line. Welcome back, Matt.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard (NSW) – Hopefully this is just a blip on the radar for RCG, who has been strong for the Panthers this season. He was a target for the Cowboys, who forced him to make 37 tackles. The result was a meager 56 metres made.
Raiders vs Titans
Ryan James (NSW) – Ryan James did absolutely everything that he could to get a result on Saturday, including scoring a try, making 50 tackles and running for 100 metres. Wonderful effort from a good work horse. James will probably be relying on others getting injured to get a run on the bench in Origin, but he wouldn’t let them down.
Nick Cotric (NSW) – Cotric is certainly a smokey, but NSW could be tempted to give the young man a crack because of his consistently impressive performances. On Saturday he managed to score a try, make 2 line breaks and 10 tackle breaks.
Josh Papalii (QLD) – Formerly an automatic selection, Papalii has had a troubled year. However, in the past couple of weeks he has turned back the clock. Against the Titans he made 32 tackles and over 100 metres in a positive sign that his fitness is improving by the week.
Jai Arrow (QLD) – Through no fault of his own, Arrow’s chances have come into question after a rib injury meant that he only spent 18 minutes on the field against the Raiders. Missing football at this stage of the season could do significant harm to his chances of playing Origin this year.
Jarrod Wallace (QLD) – If fit, Wallace will be picked for Queensland. Walters will be worried that he only played 14 minutes against the Raiders though it is believed it was just a virus that caused him discomfort.
Warriors vs Tigers
Blake Green (NSW) – Blake Green continues to impress at the Warriors, with his performance against the Tigers proving the difference in key moments. He laid on a try assist and threw the last pass for 3 line breaks. Green’s experience in big games could be exactly what Fittler needs this year in Origin.
Luke Brooks (NSW) – For Brooks to have a chance of stealing that halfback spot he needs to consistently dominate games for the next month; he went missing against the Warriors.
Sharks vs Eels
Chad Townsend (NSW) – In recent weeks Townsend has proven that he can stand up when his team needs direction or a class play. His try, try assist and over 300 kick metres show that for most of this match he seized control and didn’t let the Eels into it. Seems a long shot for a blue jersey with a different design, though.
Wade Graham (NSW) – Injuries continue to plague Graham this season. While there is little doubt that a fit Wade Graham is a selected Wade Graham – his injury concerns could be problematic for Fittler, especially if he were to get injured in the heat of battle and leave the team a player short.
Dragons vs Storm
Josh Addo-Carr (NSW) – There are 3 tries next to his name, but in reality a terrible refereeing call has stopped him from having 4. He also made 5 line breaks, 6 tackle breaks, 198 metres gained and no errors. With his blistering speed, the Blues are doing themselves a disservice if he doesn’t get picked.
Cameron Munster (QLD) – He’s just so dangerous every time he runs the ball. He gave noted defenders Frizell and Hunt nightmares on that left-edge and his form demands the number 6 jersey for Queensland.
Euan Aitken (NSW) – With the recent injury of Josh Dugan the right-centre position has been thrust open; Aitken’s two try, 6 tackle-break, 101 run metre effort puts him right near the front of the queue should Dugan not return in time.
Cameron McInnes (NSW) – Just when you think Damien Cook is a lock for the hooker position McInnes will pull out a performance like this to muddy the waters. 1 try, 1 try save, 1 forced drop out, 3 tackle breaks and 29 tackles has given Fittler plenty to think about.
Jack De Belin (NSW) – De Belin is such a workhorse that 31 tackles and 131 metres gained doesn’t seem like that big a deal. His 3 offloads were impressive, though, helping to deconstruct the Storm defence and accelerate their demise.
Will Chambers (QLD) – The normally rock-solid Chambers missed 6 tackles today as his right-side was raided repeatedly by Gareth Widdop and the Dragons. He’s an automatic selection for Queensland; this appears to be a blip on the radar.
Roosters vs Sea Eagles
Jake Trbojevic (NSW) – He just never gives up. Over 30 tackles, over 170 metres gained and did a lot of ball playing to try and spark their attack. He’ll be one of the first picked.
Api Koroisau (NSW) – Api is in a 3-way battle with Damien Cook and Cameron McInnes for the hooking role, and while they’re key members of winning teams, Koroisau is playing for the hapless Sea Eagles, missing 7 tackles and offering very little in attack. He’s falling down the pecking order.
Tom Trbojevic (NSW) – Tommy Turbo never stopped trying, but his was an error-riddled night where his opposite number well and truly bested him.
Dylan Walker (NSW) – Walker’s chances have been harmed by his club’s injury crisis and their reluctance to play Jackson Hastings at five-eighth. Walker is playing out of position and is unable to dominate a game as he was in 2017 when playing at centre.
Which players do you think have done their Origin chances no harm this weekend? Let us know in the comments below.