We Choose: New South Wales Origin
Laurie Daley take note: NRL.com has taken up the role of New South Wales selector and run with it. After a long process of debating what would work best for the Blues in their bid to snap an eight series losing streak, this is who we came up with for the first State of Origin game at Suncorp Stadium on Wednesday May 28.
1. Jarryd Hayne
With Josh Dugan and Brett Stewart waiting to pounce at any moment, Jarryd Hayne has won through with selection into our team. And why wouldn't he? Seven tries, eight line breaks and seven try assists is just some of the influence he has to offer.
2. Brett Morris
Arguably the best and most consistent winger in the world at the moment, the Dragons speedster has become somewhat of an automatic selection for the Blues over the years. Morris is set to hit double digits in Blues appearances this season after scoring his 100th NRL try earlier in the year.
3. Josh Morris
With three tries to his name this season, the Bulldogs centre thought he was being geed up when he was selected for the Kangaroos a couple of weeks ago. Hopefully he'll believe he has been picked for NSW when the opportunity arises – considering it will be his ninth Origin appearance.
4. Michael Jennings
The Roosters centre backed up a premiership winning year with admirable form this season. Five tries and seven line breaks for the reigning premiers will surely see Laurie Daley stick solid with Jennings.
5. Daniel Tupou
While he admits he doesn't think he's ready for the Origin cauldron, in-form Roosters winger Daniel Tupou makes our team on a split-decision. Tupou has scored five tries on the left wing for the reigning premiers this season.
6. James Maloney
Blues need a goal-kicker. Based on this theory James Maloney was unanimously picked to take the reins of the No. 6 jersey for this game – he's kicked 29 goals from 34 attempts (at 85.3 per cent) for the Roosters this season. Six try assists and 11 line-break assists don't hurt either.
7. Mitchell Pearce
While he'll miss this weekend's game against the Cowboys after his Kings Cross mishap, Pearce will shape up for his 13th Origin. His five try assists and a whopping 12 line-break assists for the Roosters this season will only help his cause.
8. James Tamou
The Cowboys prop has finally riled up in recent weeks. A regular for the Kangaroos, Tamou has averaged 130.7 metres per match this season for North Queensland.
9. Robbie Farah
The Tigers rake has conjured four tries, four line-breaks, six try assists, seven line-break assists, 20 tackle breaks and 41.7 tackles per match this season. If ruled fit, Farah will be the NSW hooker. No questions asked.
10. Aaron Woods
The battle of the beards will take place if Woods gets selected to go toe-to-toe with Nate Myles. While it is too hard to distinguish who has the better facial hair, Woods's 139.3 metres per match for the Tigers this year might help his cause on the field for the Blues.
11. Boyd Cordner
It's hard to drop a man after starting in the back row for Australia, especially when that man is from NSW. Started from the bench in the series decider last year (his Origin debut) and played admirably. Six bullocking line breaks might be enough to see the 21-year-old promoted to the starting team.
12. Beau Scott
Replacing fire with fire seems to be an apt way to go about Greg Bird's controversial suspension. The Knights' Beau Scott is no stranger to a Blues jumper, having worn five of them previously, and doesn't mind a scrap if push comes to shove. Gets through the dirty work in defence and four line breaks this season help his cause too.
13. Paul Gallen (c)
Queensland beware: Gal is back to his fighting best. In Round 9 against Parramatta, despite the Sharks losing, Gal produced: five offloads, 26 tackles, a try assist, 20 runs for 145 metres, six tackle breaks and a line-break assist.
14. Trent Merrin
Dragons forward Merrin is only getting better with experience. At 24, Merrin has already pulled on the Blues jumper seven times. With 16 tackle breaks alongside his 136.7 metres and 41.6 tackles for the Red V in 2014, Merrin should be a shoo-in for the Blues.
15. Anthony Watmough
Only snuck into our side as a last-minute inclusion after Andrew Fifita found himself in the casualty ward, partly because he himself has been troubled by elbow and sternum injuries this year. Watmough won't let anyone down though – especially when the 12-time Blues veteran has broken 25 tackles for Manly this season.
16. Luke Lewis
Luke Lewis is an Origin player. Despite having only played one game all season, the Sharks utility still found his way onto our bench. While he's being used as a five-eighth for Cronulla at the moment, Lewis will bring much needed impact in the back-row for the Blues.
17. Josh Reynolds
The Bulldogs five-eighth may perhaps be rewarded with another chance in the Origin arena. His utility value at six, seven and nine could see him get the nod over several others as the Blues bench utility. With nine try assists to his name for the Dogs he is a handy acquisition on the bench.