Andrew Bryan, NRL.com
Forget the $3,000 prize on offer for the Toyota Origin Dream Team competition, the real thrill of playing Dream Team is competing against your mates and earning bragging rights.
Agonising over your player choices and watching them in real time as they rack up points with tackles and try assists and lead you to ultimate glory against your annoying co-worker who sits across from you – that’s really what it is all about.
If you don’t know much about Dream Team, this is the perfect place to start, the showcase of rugby league! You don’t have to worry about salary caps or running out of trades, all you need to do is pick six State of Origin players. That’s it.
Pick the players you think will have the biggest influence on Origin and cheer every time they get involved in the game. Simple.
The big change for regular Dream Team players is that your captain will earn you triple points and the vice-captain will earn double – so choose your skipper wisely!
So who do you pick?
In the 2011 Origin series, Cameron Smith made the most tackles with 127, followed by Paul Gallen 122, Ashley Harrison 111 and Sam Thaiday 81. These guys just won’t quit, they will tackle themselves to a standstill. Forget the spine of the football team, these guys ARE your football team when it comes to Dream Team, and they won’t let you down.
By having these guys in your Dream Team, it will make you appreciate just how much work they get through in a game. In the back of your head will be a little cash register ‘cha-ching’ noise every time they are involved. Dream Team has a knack of changing the way you watch the game you love; it gives you a much better appreciation of what these guys do on the field.
Don’t care for the workhorses? Want a team that is going to be all about the glitz and glamour? No problem.
If you are all about the superstars, you are looking for the guys who show up in the highlight reels and simply cannot be stopped. With three points awarded for every tackle break, these guys are to be feared and respected when it comes to the Dream Team world.
In the 2011 Origin series, Billy Slater made 20 tackle breaks – that adds up to heartbreak for NSW fans, but a whopping 60 points to astute Dream Team players. His form has been outstanding at club level and you expect Billy the Kid to be good for a couple of tries as well over the course of the series.
Akuila Uate was also a standout during 2011, making plenty of tackle breaks (16) with powerful running from kick returns and out of dummy-half. The Blues will look to Uate to get their sets off to a big start, so you can expect the powerful winger to drift infield and pick up plenty of points in metres gained and tackle breaks.
But the elephant in the room is Greg Inglis... can anyone stop him? The only question mark on this colossus is whether he can have the same impact in the centres for Queensland as he has had at fullback for the Rabbitohs. There is no doubting his star quality and the sheer destructive power he possesses – but in Dream Team world, can he be trusted playing out in the centres to rack up numbers similar to the guys in the middle of the field?
The toughest decision for Dream Team players might just be who to pick out of the playmakers. With Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Mitchell Pearce and Todd Carney all battling for the one spot in the halves for your team, it is going to be a tough call.
What to take from all this?
Dream Team is fun, it is easy and a good way to challenge your friends, mates and annoying co-workers alike. On top of all that, it will give you another reason to cheer and get invested in the Origin hype. And there's a cool $3000 up for grabs for the winner.
Side note: You will have the opportunity to completely change your side for each game of the series, so don’t stress, just pick the players you think will score well in Game 1.
Stat leaders from the 2011 State of Origin Series
Line Break Assists
Follow Andrew Bryan on twitter: @andrewbryan321