Sharks five-eighth Matt Moylan.

Plenty at stake before Origin I

It can be easy to forget there is a round of NRL to play before we can feast on the first State of Origin game of the series next week.

Game One is as tantalising as it comes – a new era of New South Wales players, picked based on form and a whole lot of speed and agility. Tries are a certainty.

Then there is the changing of the guard for Queensland, with Greg Inglis replacing Cameron Smith as skipper of the side.

It's the first game we'll see without the Melbourne captain steering the ship since 2010, so there is plenty of excitement as we anticipate what is to come on Wednesday.

However, there is still a lot at stake for the eight teams who are playing this weekend.

This stage of the competition is the when teams who have remained relatively untouched by Origin make their move up the ladder, while those jammed with interstate stars have to rely on rookies and their early season results to get them through.

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Or, if they're lucky, they can spring an upset and throw everyone's tips askew.

This weekend, three of the eight teams have not supplied an Origin player – the Eels, Knights and the Wests Tigers.

The Rabbitohs and the Sharks will be hoping to maintain their place in the top four, albeit without some of their biggest stars, while the Cowboys and the Eels will be desperate to score a win to help them out of wooden spoon territory.

It's no interstate battle, but it's important all the same. Moves will be made this week.

Being round 13, it's also a good time to assess the competition. We’re halfway through and each club has played 12 of their 24 games, giving a good indication of whether the wheels are falling off or they’re starting to pick up speed.

Depending on who you support it's either a terribly exciting or a particularly rough time.

It's difficult to draw a line through the teams who are under-performing, and it's too early to be hanging premiership hopes on one club, although the Panthers sure did announce themselves last week.