Warrick Nicolson, NRL.com
For the Holden NRL Dream Team coaches out there who feel like they’ve made every mistake in the DT coaching manual this season – there is good news. You can now make those mistakes again (or rectify them) – in Holden Origin Dream Team which kicks-off this Wednesday night with Game 1 in Sydney.
However if you get the formula right with your team selection in Holden Origin Dream Team – you stand to win yourself a cool $5,000. The only problem is – with a limited pool of players to choose from, the competition for the $5,000 will be tougher than ever.
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So what lesson did we learn from Holden Test Match Dream team in April when Australia disposed of New Zealand? Pick a player who will play 80 minutes as your skipper and if you can, the same goes for your vice-captain – as your captain’s score gets tripled and your vice-captain’s points doubled.
So as you sit down to pick your six man line-up from New South Wales and Queensland – can you afford to pick NSW prop Paul Gallen as your Holden Origin Dream Team skipper if he isn’t going to play 80 minutes? And what about DT legend Corey Parker? Normally he’d be a handy consideration for one of your captaincy options but unless Queensland decide to push Sam Thaiday or Nate Myles into prop on game day and start Parker in the backrow (you will know an hour before kick-off) – CP13 might only get 30-35 minutes of total game time and should not be even considered for your line-up, let alone a captaincy role.
Here is a quick look over each position for Holden Origin Dream Team – make sure you have your team picked before Wednesday night, as it leaves you plenty of time to tinker between now and kick-off… because tinker you will.
Fullbacks and Wingers As you all know – wingers can be DT kryptonite so the focus here is on Jarryd Hayne and Billy Slater. Hayne in particular might be worth thinking about as vice-captaincy material if you think the Blues are going to do the business on Wednesday but if you end up taking a winger from either team – you need tries, tries and more tries to justify their risky selection.
Centres This selection could make or break your ranking. Greg Inglis is the standout choice because he’s well… GI, but Justin Hodges can break a tackle with the best of them (+3 easy points) and Michael Jennings has been in outstanding DT form this season. Yet it may be Josh Morris having a wow of an Origin 1 that puts you out in front in Holden Origin Dream Team a third of the way through. Remember that tackles are still the backbone of a good DT performer…
Halves Another embarrassment of riches at the selection table. Cooper Cronk is the ‘safe pick’ given he’ll do the majority of Queensland’s kicking but James Maloney and Johnathan Thurston are likely to get the goalkicking duties in Origin 1 – so are those extra 6 or 8 points the difference between a standout Holden Origin Dream Team score in Game 1 or an average performance? Then there is Mitchell Pearce – NSW coach Laurie Daley has faith in him – do you?
2nd Row Forwards Queensland have stocked up in backrowers which might actually work against each individual’s score. Sam Thaiday and Nate Myles will spend time at prop so that could mean great base stats, while Greg Bird may be the only NSW backrower who plays 80 minutes. If you are looking for tackle stats – Ashley Harrison will deliver, while Ryan Hoffman and Luke Lewis probably represent the most dangerous try-scoring options of those starting the match. You can’t rely on interchange forwards here, unless you think Anthony Watmough or Matt Gillett are about to score twice coming off the bench?
Front Row Forwards Given Queensland’s backrow heavy bench – Matthew Scott looks like a savvy pick here. His only downside is tackles made (a high tackle count is not the norm) but he’ll carry the ball strongly and should play good minutes. For the Blues – James Tamou and Andrew Fifita are capable of giving you cheap tackle break stats that inflate their score, while Paul Gallen probably plays at least 65 minutes and could play 80. So do you go Gallen given the potential of Tamou and Fifita sharing 80 minutes between them?
Hookers Now we get to the real captaincy debate. Will you pick perennial DT genius Cameron Smith as your captain, or this year’s DT superstar Robbie Farah as your triple-point recipient? You won't get a bad score from either of them and whoever you pick needs to be at least your vice-captain. The one area that makes Farah the best candidate for captaincy material is his kicking game. While Smith’s long kick is a weapon, Farah will kick for distance as well as set up potential tries near the line… that gives him the slightest of edges here, as both will likely approach 50+ tackles and play the whole match.
So there you have it Holden Origin Dream Team coaches – the skinny on your options for Game 1. Will you play it safe making Farah or Smith your skipper or go for the home run by making Inglis or Hayne your captain? The beauty of Holden Origin Dream Team is the choice, ultimately, is yours.