STATE OF ORIGIN
NRL.com's fearless 2017 predictions: Part 2
As we look ahead to the 2017 season, NRL.com's writers take a few early guesses at how the State of Origin series will play out. Will Queensland's domination continue, and which new faces will get the Origin call-up?
Who will win State of Origin?
Tony Webeck: Two games at Suncorp? That's reason enough alone to pick the Maroons again in 2017.
Chris Kennedy: The new-look Blues will finally start to claw that dominance back.
Dominic Brock: Queensland. Two games at home and they're the better team if they're close to full strength.
Andy Bryan: Queensland still have the team to beat, and while the gap gets closer they'll find a way to win in the big moments. This champion side is not done yet.
Martin Gabor: The Maroons have won 10 of the past 11 series and play two matches at Suncorp Stadium in 2017. That makes them morals, right? Wrong. The Blues' last two series victories came when they travelled to the Cauldron twice, and I'm tipping their new breed to get the job done. In addition, the last two times I went overseas (in 2005 and 2014) NSW hoisted the shield, and odds are I will travel again in 2017. My pleasure, Blues fans.
Adrian McMurray: NSW. An injection of youth in 2016 did wonders for Laurie Daley's side. Throw Jarryd Hayne back into the mix as well as massive competition for places across the board and you get the sense it's time for the shield to head south.
Jack Brady: Queensland will take one more for the road before the older blokes start heading for the retirement home. Maroons 2-1.
Tony Webeck: I'd have Jake Trbojevic making the first of what will be many Origin appearances for NSW in Game One and if Ryan James continues his upward trajectory the Blues could use his size and aggression up front. I wouldn't expect too many changes for the Maroons other than the inclusion of Dylan Napa and quite possibly Coen Hess from the Cowboys.
Chris Kennedy: The Trbojevic brothers are shoo-ins for the Blues. Shannon Boyd is a chance but his position is pretty stacked. Val Holmes is all but guaranteed and Dylan Napa is also a strong chance for Queensland. Bryce Cartwright and Tyrone Peachey are chances for NSW but with plenty of competition for spots. Nathan Cleary is the bolter, the only question is whether 2017 is his year or if he has to wait 'til 2018.
Dominic Brock: Jake Trbojevic to come in for the Blues, and Valentine Holmes and Dylan Napa to get a run for the Maroons.
Andy Bryan: As far as bolters go, obviously a look at the emerging squads is a big hint – while I think talk of mercurial talent Nathan Cleary is a little premature there are plenty of players on the cusp who could be considered 'bolters' in sky blue. The Trbojevic brothers must be real close…
Martin Gabor: Nathan Cleary will be an Origin player for many years to come, so why not blood him now? The Panthers halfback has handled every challenge thrown his way and wouldn't look out of place in a sky blue jersey. Dylan Napa looks likely to earn a Maroons debut, with Valentine Holmes another possible inclusion in Kevin Walters's side.
Adrian McMurray: At least one of the Trbojevic brothers should make their NSW debut, with Jake the front-runner after already representing Australia. I'd imagine Ryan James would come into calculations somewhere, along with Bryce Cartwright and Kangaroo Shannon Boyd. Joey Leilua might force his way into a stacked backline as well. As for Queensland, Dylan Napa and Valentine Holmes should get their chance at some point during the series.
Jack Brady: Jake Trbojevic, Shannon Boyd and Valentine Holmes should go very close to earning Origin debuts considering the roles they played in Australia's Four Nations victory over New Zealand. I'd also expect Dylan Napa to be there in Origin I following his year in exile.
Name the NSW backline
Tony Webeck: James Tedesco, Brett Morris, Michael Jennings, Jack Bird, Blake Ferguson, James Maloney, Adam Reynolds.
Chris Kennedy: 1. Tedesco 2. Ferguson 3. Leilua/Dugan 4. Hayne/Jennings 5. Trbojevic 6. Moylan 7. Maloney (14. J Bird). Tedesco has to play fullback. If Ferguson continues his Four Nations form he's an auto-pick but I'd prefer a specialist over Dugan at centre. The winning halves combo from 2016 Game Three stays but Nathan Cleary is bashing on the door (with Adam Reynolds and Mitch Pearce also in the frame). Hayne will need to show he's still got what it takes, and Leilua that he can keep it up in the first 10 weeks of 2017 otherwise the likes of Jarrod Croker, Michael Jennings and James Roberts come into contention. Josh Mansour's injury opens the door for Tom Trbojevic but I'm not writing off Brett Morris.
Dominic Brock: 1. James Tedesco 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jarryd Hayne 5. Josh Mansour/Brett Morris 6. Matt Moylan 7. James Maloney. I personally think Mitchell Pearce makes more sense in the halves than Moylan but I reckon NSW will stick with the halves combination from Game Three last year.
Andy Bryan: 1. Tedesco, 2. Ferguson, 3. Dugan, 4. Hayne, 5. Mansour, 6. Maloney, 7. Pearce. I think Moylan will be in the team somewhere, so pencil him in on the bench. Hayne has proven he can play and star at centre and I think Tedesco has to play in the No.1. If Pearce is back to his best, he's the best choice for No.7 with Maloney at 6.
Martin Gabor: 1. James Tedesco 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Josh Dugan 4. Jarryd Hayne 5. Josh Mansour/Brett Morris 6. James Maloney 7. Nathan Cleary.
Adrian McMurray: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Blake Ferguson, 3. Josh Dugan, 4. Joey Leilua, 5. Jarryd Hayne, 6. James Maloney, 7. Mitchell Pearce. Despite the myriad fullbacks available for selection, I'm tipping Tedesco to retain his spot at the back. Ferguson and Dugan should continue their Kangaroos combination, while Leilua and Hayne would form a potent combination on the other edge. Mitchell Pearce's return would force Matt Moylan to the bench in this scenario.
Jack Brady: 1. James Tedesco, 2. Jarryd Hayne, 3. Josh Dugan, 4. Michael Jennings, 5. Blake Ferguson, 6. Matt Moylan, 7. James Maloney.