Andrew Bryan, NRL.com
It is the State of Origin decider and for more than 42,000 players in the Holden Origin Dream Team competition it is time to make some very tough decisions.
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Do you go with the safe, reliable players, or do you differentiate yourself from the other Dream Team players and pick a couple of x-factor individuals who have the potential to score big – but who could equally score single figures?
First things first – if you have Paul Gallen, get rid of him, he has been officially ruled OUT of the decider. He can’t score you points from the sidelines. He’s been a champion for NSW and Dream Team coaches, but that won’t help you in Game III.
Now to the hooker role: nothing can separate the two Dream Team guns Cameron Smith and Robbie Farah. You can pick only one of these players and so far you have not been disadvantaged whichever way your loyalties have gone. Smith has scored 109 points, Robbie Farah 108.
So we head to Game Three. Will Farah score more points at home, or will he be slightly limited with Josh Reynolds picked on the bench? That is the question you need to answer. Both Smith and Farah get through a mountain of defence, so it is likely their attacking stats will be the deciding factor here. Simple answer – pick the hooker based on which team you think will win, but you can’t really go too wrong here.
Food for thought: 27,468 Dream Teams have Smith – he is the most-picked player, while only 11,125 have Farah. If you are looking for a point of difference, pick Farah and hope that he outperforms Smith on the night.
Greg Inglis is the second-most picked player in Holden Origin Dream Team (behind Smith) with 27,312 teams, but GI is only 14th on the list of point scorers. He has been a Dream Team juggernaut for South Sydney playing at fullback, but hasn’t quite made the same impact with limited opportunities in the centres in Origin. Will GI explode to again cause heartache for the Blues? If he does, he’ll score big.
Not so fast: Michael Jennings averages six points more a match than Inglis and is only in 7,808 teams. If you are looking for a point of difference and think Jennings will have more impact in the decider after a quiet Game Two – he could be a good option.
Sam Thaiday is averaging 46 points per game and is the highest-scoring second row forward but is only in 3,175 teams. It comes down to Sam Thaiday v Corey Parker v Luke Lewis (all three are in the top 10 point scorers!)
Who you choose here could make or break your Origin Dream Team. Can Thaiday repeat his standout game at Suncorp Stadium? Will Corey Parker tackle and offload his way to more points, or can Luke Lewis reprieve his performance in Game One? Tough one!
Finally, to the fullback/wing role – and it comes down to Billy Slater v Darius Boyd v Brent Tate v Josh Dugan. You can take a punt on James McManus having a big game, but he is not traditionally a big Dream Team scorer. Boyd is the leader on the points tally – thanks to a couple of effortless passages to the try line.
The decision: It all depends on how you think the game will go. If Queensland’s backline is on song, Darius Boyd will be the biggest beneficiary. If you think Dugan can reprise his tackle-breaking, pinball running style from the back, he has the potential to post big numbers. Slater is always a danger and is the most-picked of these players. Who will you choose?
Top 10 Origin Dream Team players
1. Cam Smith 109
2. Robbie Farah 108
3. Paul Gallen 102
4. Cooper Cronk 100
5. Sam Thaiday 93
6. Corey Parker 92
7. Mitchell Pearce 90
8. Luke Lewis 88
9. Nate Myles 87
10. Andrew Fifita 82