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.
Dragons vs Roosters
Ben Hunt (QLD) – after making his debut off the bench in Game 3 last year, Hunt is primed to take the halfback position left vacant by Cooper Cronk’s representative retirement. Against the Roosters he managed the game beautifully with over 500 kick metres, broke 3 tackles, popped 5 offloads and scored a try.
James Tedesco (NSW) – Tedesco hasn’t had the best start to the season at his new club, but he was excellent in a losing side on ANZAC Day; running for 279 metres, making a line break and busting 8 tackles with no errors. Should hold off challengers for the Blues fullback jersey.
Jack De Belin (NSW) – If Brad Fittler wants to inject an in-form workhorse for the middle third, De Belin may be the man; especially after a 41 tackle effort against the Roosters.
Latrell Mitchell (NSW) – Andrew Johns has referred to him as a ‘Ferrari’ and when you see him in space, it’s easy to see his appeal. With a lack of natural left-centre options, Fittler may be willing to take a risk on the in-form Mitchell.
Tariq Sims (NSW) – NSW has a lot of edge back-rowers to choose from; many with a lot more pedigree than Sims, but few are in the form he is in or can provide the intimidation and impact he gives a side. Is a reasonable chance for a bench spot considering his form.
Luke Keary (NSW) – Excellent form last year and earlier this year has him in the frame, but didn’t do much against the Dragons.
Tyson Frizell (NSW) – Got through a decent amount of work but didn’t bend the line like he is capable of. Will be there.
Paul Vaughan (NSW) – Not bashing the door down like he was last year and NSW have lots of props to choose from. Did an honest job against the Roosters with over 100 metres gained and 27 tackles.
Blake Ferguson (NSW) – Worked hard bringing his team out of trouble, but wasn’t able to influence the result. Has been the best winger in the competition in 2018, though, so the only thing stopping him from being selected will be his previous off-field indiscretions.
Euan Aitken (NSW) – Quiet performance from Aitken who has impressed enough to be in the frame for selection.
Cameron McInnes (NSW) – It was a typically industrious performance from McInnes against the Roosters, making 37 tackles in an 80 minute display. Is considered a good chance of making his debut this year.
Jake Friend (QLD) – Any chance of him being a bench option appears to be going out the door as Friend’s form has fans calling for him to be benched. He hasn’t offered a lot in attack in recent seasons, despite his work-rate not dipping.
Boyd Cordner (NSW) – At his best, Cordner isn’t the player that misses key tackles that lead to tries. Is he hampered by injury? There’s no question he is the first name on Brad Fittler’s team sheet, but his form must be a concern at the moment.
Dylan Napa (QLD) – Napa was impressive last series for Queensland and is expected to be retained, but he has failed to assert himself as a representative level forward for the Roosters so far this season. His forward pack was dominated on ANZAC Day.
Storm vs Warriors
Cameron Smith (QLD) – hasn’t the great man just clicked in the last few weeks? Ominous signs for NSW.
Billy Slater (QLD) – See ‘Cameron Smith’.
Josh Addo-Carr (NSW) – Fittler may want to inject raw speed into his backline and he may not have to look much further than the in-form Addo-Carr, who scored 2 tries and created another in a dominant display.
Felise Kaufusi (QLD) – Kaufusi has played for Australia and is now poised to debut for Queensland given the injury to Matt Gillett and the indifferent form of other back-row options for Queensland. He runs a beautiful outside-in line and terrorised Blake Green all game on Wednesday.
Cameron Munster (QLD) – Surely the number 6 jersey must be his? His form in the last 3 weeks has been elite, and he is one of the few players in the competition who looks dangerous every time he touches the ball. He added 2 try assists to his season tally against the Warriors on ANZAC Day.
Christian Welch (QLD) – Welch stormed into contention with a best-on-field performance against the Warriors. Could be the kind of middle-forward Queensland would like to use off the bench. Would be a hell of a bolter!
Blake Green (NSW) – Has been excellent for the Warriors this year, but didn’t have many opportunities behind a forward pack that was thoroughly beaten. Will need some excellent form to steal a halves jersey.
Will Chambers (QLD) – Showed class whenever it was required and is an almost certainty to get the right-centre position for Queensland.
Tim Glasby (QLD) – Many considered Glasby lucky to be there last year, but he did his job honourably. Against the Warriors he made 79 metres, which is slightly up on his season average of 66. It’s just not enough to demand selection and may find himself outside the 17 this season.
Rabbitohs vs Broncos
Corey Oates (QLD) – Goodness, what a performance! If Oates doesn’t play this game, the Rabbitohs win comfortably. Oates scored a try, busted the line 3 times, shrugged off 9 tackles and made over 200 metres. Will have to battle it out with Val Holmes and Darius Boyd for a spot on the left-wing, but has put his best foot forward.
John Sutton (NSW) – When the Rabbitohs needed something, they went to Sutton, who has recently been very difficult to contain. He’s unlikely to earn a spot, but that’s not for lack of form. Against the Broncos he scored a try, had a line break assist, made 29 tackles and busted 4.
Darius Boyd (QLD) – There have been whispers that Boyd will miss out on his left-wing spot; it looks like he won’t concede his position without a fight. Against the Rabbitohs he appeared to have got his pace back, racing to score a try off a kick. He also busted 5 tackles on his way to 149 metres gained, with no errors. Class is permanent.
Damien Cook (NSW) – With blistering pace, Cook has surged into contention for the dummy half role for the Blues, but he also offers impressive fitness and a high work-rate. Against the Broncos he busted 5 tackles to run for over 100 metres in addition to his 38 tackles, which is his season average.
Angus Crichton (NSW) – Crichton appears to have fallen down the pecking order, but he continues to provide the Rabbitohs with industrious efforts for 80 minutes, making 42 tackles and over 100 metres against the Broncos.
James Roberts (NSW) – Quickest player in the league? Probably. He’ll be in the mix because of that pace, which gave him a try in an otherwise quiet performance from him.
Alex Johnston (NSW) – Johnston has been solid at fullback, but has the athleticism and the form to be an asset on the wing for the Blues. He scored a try and also saved one against the Broncos on Thursday night.
Korbin Sims (QLD) – Considered a chance to sneak onto the Maroons bench because of a lack of big men at their disposal and did his chances no harm with over 100 metres gained from the bench.
Dane Gagai (QLD) – He’s an automatic selection on the right wing for Queensland and his solid form has done nothing to diminish his chances.
Greg Inglis (QLD) – Will play at left centre for Queensland; the great man is hitting match fitness at the right time (once again). Watch out NSW!
Adam Reynolds (NSW) – Reynolds is considered a front-runner for the NSW halfback spot and he’s been there and done it before, but he must improve his attacking options to secure his spot. The Rabbitohs had forward-dominance and a lot of good ball, but Reynolds lacked the ability to put the Broncos to the sword which hurt them later in the match.
Anthony Milford (QLD) – After his shock inclusion in Game 1 last year, Milford has drifted so far from the Maroon conscience that he’s not even really in consideration this year. His inability to manage a gameplan and his inconsistencies have seen him fall out of favour.
Sam Thaiday (QLD) – On current form Thaiday could consider himself lucky to be in the Broncos’ 17. The Queensland legend is well past his best and won’t play Origin this year.
Jack Bird (NSW) – A super-sub for NSW in the past, Bird seems to be hampered by his off-season injury and has appeared to put on some unwanted extra weight. Is struggling to live up to his price tag at the Broncos.
Josh McGuire (QLD) – Would be one of the first Maroons picked, but picked up an injury in this game. His chances hinge on how he recovers and whether he can resume his previously excellent form.
Sea Eagles vs Knights
Jake Trbojevic (NSW) – Jake will be one of the first people picked for NSW and so he should be. In a losing side he made 45 tackles and 238 metres, which is borderline superhuman.
Kalyn Ponga (QLD) – Queensland have a live one on their hands, but it might be just a little too soon to introduce him into the Origin arena. Still, they might be able to use his impact off the bench; impact that busted 11 tackles against the Sea Eagles.
Aidan Guerra (QLD) – Guerra is doing his best to earn a recall for Queensland, working hard to give the Knights a good start to the season. Against Manly he made 40 tackles, including a vital try save.
Daly Cherry-Evans (QLD) – DCE is probably no chance of playing for Queensland after being snubbed in recent seasons and then having some on and off-field issues with Manly for most of 2018. In honesty his form itself has been solid and was again in a losing side on Friday night.
Tom Trbojevic (NSW)- Tommy Turbo is the man most likely to steal the fullback jersey from James Tedesco but his best chance of a State of Origin debut will be on the left wing. He had a lot of involvement on Friday but wasn’t able to get his team across the line with his trademark x-factor.
Dylan Walker (NSW) – Previously used off the bench for NSW in a bizarre selection, Walker would love a chance to play at right centre for the Blues. He scored a try against the Knights and did his chances no harm.
Api Koroisau (NSW) – Api is one frontrunner to take the dummy half position for the Blues, but had a poor game against the Knights. His work-rate was down, he missed 5 tackles and didn’t provide any spark from dummy half (which is unusual for him). Cook and McInnes may have just jumped him in the pecking order.
Panthers vs Bulldogs
Josh Jackson (NSW) – 2 try assists and 43 tackles against the Panthers shows the value of Jackson in both attack and defence and his previous Origin performances mean he is likely to be a part of Fittler’s 17 come gameday.
Tyrone Peachey (NSW) – Peachey has spent the last few weeks in the five-eighth role, giving him a chance to further display his versatility which could make him an ideal utility. Against the Dogs he created 2 tries and busted 6 tackles in a dominant display.
James Tamou (NSW) – Has fallen considerably down the pecking order, but his work-rate was impressive against the Bulldogs who have a big forward pack themselves. 33 tackles and 127 metres gained makes a good night’s work.
James Maloney (NSW) – Will be the first man Fittler picks apart from his captain. Next!
Will Hopoate (NSW) – A try, 3 offloads and over 150 metres gained makes for the kind of form that might keep Hopoate in contention for a recall.
Trent Merrin (NSW) – Merrin has been pivotal for the Panthers this season and particularly strong since moving to prop. Fittler has a lot of options, but Merrin’s work-rate has him in the frame.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard (NSW) – RCG looks likely to make his State of Origin debut this season after starring for the Kangaroos in the World Cup and his 35 tackles and 100 metres gained against the Bulldogs will not harm his chances.
Aaron Woods (NSW) – Woods has been good in recent weeks and he got through plenty of work in a losing effort. His experience could be invaluable but if Fittler chooses to clean out most of the squad, Woods could be one of the players to miss out.
Moses Mbye (QLD) – Mbye has been a revelation at fullback this year, but he wasn’t at his best on Friday night. He was involved in the Bulldogs’ kicking game and busted 4 tackles, but it seems unlikely that he’ll play for Queensland this year.
David Klemmer (NSW) – Klemmer is considered a near-certainty to be there in Origin 1 and his performance against the Panthers was solid enough to do no harm to those chances.
Josh Morris (NSW) – Josh Morris seems to have lost the pace that made him such a threatening weapon in attack. The only thing that would see him recalled to the Origin arena is if they want him to try and nullify Greg Inglis one more time.
Titans vs Sharks
Jai Arrow (QLD) – Jai Arrow left the Broncos to seek an opportunity to play regular first grade. I bet the Broncos are regretting losing him. His work-ethic has placed him in the frame for a spot on the bench for Queensland. He made 38 tackles, 194 metres, a line break and 4 tackle breaks against the Sharks to only strengthen his chances.
Ryan James (NSW) – Forever in the frame for selection but never getting an opportunity, James worked hard in making 48 tackles against the Sharks, but would have been disappointed to only make 65 metres with the ball.
Matt Moylan (NSW) – Despite the need for a classy half, the Blues will look past Moylan, who doesn’t lack for the natural talent to be one of the best players in the competition. He’s failed to stamp his authority on any games since moving to the Sharks and despite a solid performance in a winning side, will not have moved closer to a Blue jersey of a different kind.
Jarrod Wallace (QLD) – After a solid debut series, Wallace is almost certain to be retained by the Maroons. His 134 metres gained and 32 tackles are exactly the kind of efforts the Maroons are looking for.
Josh Dugan (NSW) – Aside from off-field indiscretions, Dugan is the best centre option at the Blues’ disposal. Playing at fullback for the Sharks, he made 144 metres and created a vital try and his good form is likely to see him keep his spot for NSW.
Val Holmes (QLD) – It’s been a tough season for Holmes who has been displaced as the fullback at the Sharks, but his representative form in recent seasons means he is a good shout for a wing spot for the Maroons. Against the Titans he scored a try, ran for 138 metres and didn’t make an error in an encouraging sign for Kevin Walters.
Cowboys vs Raiders
Nil – no one who is eligible for Origin played particularly well in this game.
Josh Papalii (QLD) – Papalii has been poor for much of this year, even spending a week in the Intrust Super Cup, but his form against the Cowboys on Saturday was very encouraging. He made 35 tackles and scored a try, but the most encouraging sign was his improved match fitness.
Gavin Cooper (QLD) – Gavin Cooper’s stocks have risen since he became the makeshift captain of the Cowboys at the end of 2017, but his form has taken a dip in line with the rest of his side in 2018. But not for lack of trying. Cooper scored a try against the Raiders and made 29 tackles.
Michael Morgan (QLD) – Morgan’s form has been poor since returning from injury and returning to second receiver at the Cowboys. You can see that he’s trying, though. He broke 3 tackles, ran for 92 metres and saved 2 tries. Kevin Walters would like to see him create a few more tries, though!
Coen Hess (QLD) – Coen Hess has a chance to earn a starting spot for the Maroons with Matt Gillett out injured and his early season form has been good. He had a quieter game against the Raiders, with only 2 tackle breaks and 99 metres gained.
Shannon Boyd (NSW) – Considering the heights expected of big Shannon, he simply hasn’t delivered on his talent. Against a struggling Cowboys outfit, he wasn’t able to dominate the way a player of his size and talent should.
Matt Scott (QLD) – Once the best prop on the planet, on form Matt Scott probably doesn’t deserve to play representative football this year. His 73 metres gained is not enough for his struggling side. Expect Kevin Walters to stay loyal with the great man, though. You know he won’t take a backward step.
Justin O’Neill (QLD) – O’Neill has lost the pace that typified his early career and errors and missed tackles have crept into his game since. His form has been so poor that he may not keep his spot in the NRL. He was unable to provide an impact against the Raiders.
Eels vs Tigers
Michael Jennings (NSW) – A veteran of 18 Origins for New South Wales, Jennings has often been called on to give the backline pace. He didn’t play in 2017 and has since played for Tonga in the World Cup, so he seems a fair way off the pace. But after a try, a line break assist and 6 tackle breaks, Jennings wound back the clock against the Tigers to help his team get a timely victory. NSW needs a left centre, so who knows?
Corey Norman (QLD) – Norman, along with his halves partner Mitchell Moses have been blamed for the Eels poor form, but against the Tigers he ran the ball more, breaking 7 tackles and setting up 2 tries. He’s some way off the pace for a QLD jersey this year, but an in-form Norman is certainly good enough.
Clint Gutherson (NSW) – His game against the Tigers was one of his quieter days, but there’s no doubting that his skills and leadership make the Eels a better football side. He’d be a smokey for a spot in the Blues’ backline, but he’s such a quality footballer he would handle it.
Luke Brooks (NSW) – Luke Brooks’ otherworldly form at various times this season wasn’t found today against his housemate Moses and he wasn’t able to guide his team to victory, but he had some really good moments, including retrieving a kick then beating three players to escape the in-goal area with excellent speed. A smokey for the Blues halfback role.
Mitchell Moses (NSW) – After the standard of football Moses delivered for Lebanon during the World Cup, many touted him as a future Origin player. His early season form has been poor and it seemed he wouldn’t take the line on, but a try assist where he went through the line at pace and offloaded to Jennings was a positive sign. Probably a year or 2 away from playing Origin, if ever.
Which players do you think are hot, steady or cold when it comes to selection for State of Origin in 2018? Let us know in the comments below.
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