Grandstanding: Pick Ryan Hoffman for NSW
Everyone has their own opinion on who should represent NSW in State of Origin game one against Queensland on May 12.
The best thing about being a spectator is I can throw out my NSW Origin team with no consequence. There may be discussion or arguments amongst friends about my selections but that's where it finishes.
Consider the pressure NSW coach Ricky Stuart is under as he tries to select a team that will break six consecutive series wins for Mal Meninga and the Maroons.
When Ricky's team is announced on Sunday night, there will be scrutiny to the nth degree, media will beat up the players not selected and some selected players will receive lukewarm support from the outside. Ricky Stuart is under no illusions as to the enormity of the task in the next eight weeks.
Here is my NSW Origin team for game one and why I think they should be picked:
- Brett Stewart - Has the speed to turn half opportunities into tries. Tremendous last line defender.
- Akuila Uate - Had an outstanding series in 2011. One of the game's best kick returners.
- Chris Lawrence - No genuine right centre but runs courageous lines in attack and is a strong defender.
- Josh Morris - Blistering speed and bang in form. Anticipates a break better than most
- Brett Morris - Out-and-out finisher, and the one-two punch together with his brother will lift both.
- Todd Carney - Very strong kicking game, will play footy in any situation and in first-class form.
- Mitchell Pearce - His game has shown all dimensions in last few weeks. Can kick, pass, run and tackle.
- James Tamou - Big bopper and in form. On the way up as a player.
- Robbie Farah - Maligned but in form. His left-foot kicks can keep Queensland back three on notice.
- Paul Gallen - Needs no introduction.
- Ryan Hoffman - Form player in a form team. Left second row who will carry the ball at Thurston/Cronk all game. Great kick-chase and has a sneaky offload.
- Glenn Stewart - Creative backrower who can take pressure off Pearce and Carney on occasions. Ask Corey Payne if he can hit hard in defense.
- Greg Bird - Always plays well for NSW, in fact better than with his club. Swing man for injuries at hooker or halves.
- Tony Williams - Tackle-breaker. T-Rex has got enough teammates who play long minutes in the NSW team so if he can be a wrecking ball for a couple of 15 -minute stints, which works for me.
- Tariq Sims - Another giant young, fit, strong, fast, tackle-breaker. See job spec of T-Rex.
- Tim Mannah - Runs hard, finds the ground, and plays the ball fast. Is honest in defence. That is all that's required in this team. He will eat this role up.
- Anthony Watmough - In form and adds good balance to this team. There are plenty of attacking-minded backrowers so someone needs to do the donkey work. This is his specialty.
Anyone not selected can be made a case for inclusion. I don't think we need a player on the bench to resemble Kurt Gidley because they are nowhere near his impact or talent.
Good luck Ricky Stuart and NSW, make it difficult for Queensland to feel comfortable at any stage over 240 minutes of footy.