With a shortened round of NRL just passed, it’s now time for Dream Team coaches to test their skills on the biggest stage of the year, Origin Dream Team.
Much of the focus is on whether NSW can break the seven-year drought on the field, but in the Dream Team world it’s another opportunity to get one over your mates on the big stage.
With both the New South Wales and Queensland sides named, we’ll take a look at and analyse the respective lineups from a Dream Team perspective.
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New South Wales v Queensland
Kick off 8:00pm 5/6/13
WFB - While Origin games, and series openers in particular, are notoriously tight, the WFB selection could make or break your score. The two fullbacks, Jarryd Hayne and Billy Slater, are the obvious choices here, with try-scoring and tackle-breaking ability. Darius Boyd has had quite a time of Origin in the past few years, always finding a way to the line, while Brett Morris came to life late in the 2012 series. Blake Ferguson is the ultimate wild card, with an ability to break a game open on his own.
CTR - This spot is realistically a race in one. Greg Inglis is the obvious choice - he is the top try scorer in Origin history and has been in career best form for Souths. There is even talk of him and Billy Slater trading some time at fullback, and on kick-returns Inglis can be at his most destructive. His partner Justin Hodges is not slouch either, while the form of Michael Jennings makes him a possible wildcard selection should NSW pile on some points.
HLF - Another tough selection, particularly considering the NRL form of the four starting options. Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston are the two better options on face value, particularly if Thurston is taking on the goal-kicking duties. Cronk is probably the more favoured for his kick-metres, and while Mitchell Pearce will be doing the same, he isn’t as prolific a Dream Team scorer as any of the other options. James Maloney is the roughie here - has the ability to score well and will be kicking goals for the Blues.
2RF - These are your money makers in Origin, as the impact players grab the attacking points and the workers the defensive points. After revealing he’ll be playing in the centre of the park, Greg Bird is the standout option in the NSW side, with a high work rate and good ability to score in attack. Queensland have a plethora of options with a bench full of second rowers, however starting pair Nate Myles and Sam Thaiday are both looking at some time in the front row, which makes them Dream Team gold. Don’t rule out Corey Parker or Anthony Watmough.
FRF - He won’t be playing 80 minutes as he had done in previous years, but Paul Gallen is still a very good option in the front row this year. He and Matt Scott will play big minutes and get through plenty of work both in attack and defence. While not advisable, Andrew Fifita could be a massive gamble that pays off if he gets enough time on the park and is at his destructible best.
HOK - The closest call of all positions is the hooker. Again we’ve got the best two in the work going head-to-head on the biggest stage. Either is a good option, as barring a complete blowout on the scoreboard, they’ll be getting through a mountain of defensive work and chiming in in attack and the general kicking. Don’t worry about Josh Reynolds on the NSW bench as well, as Farah will play 80 minutes unless he is hurt.
NOTE: Keep in mind that the most popular choices don’t always necessarily take the cake. To win a game like DT Origin, you’ve really need to think outside the square and go for gold - too many other teams will have similar looking sides if you go with the obvious picks. Go on, live a little!