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Rep debut: experts have their say on who’ll break through

The representative matches are just around the corner. The experts have their say on which players are likely to get the call-up to the Holden State of Origin or international arena for the first time based on their early-season form.

The's experts view

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

My selection is Victor Radley - in my opinion he is made for the State of Origin arena with his aggressive defence. He underlined his versatility by playing dummy-half for the Roosters against the Broncos last Thursday and he did a great job filling in for Jake Friend.

Michael Chammas ( chief reporter)

The obvious one is Cam Murray as a straight swap for Jack de Belin, but for the sake of being different, why not Clint Gutherson? The Parramatta skipper has started the year in great touch and has been one of the better players in the competition. With Tom Trbojevic racing the clock to be fit for NSW in game one, and James Roberts struggling for fitness and form, Gutherson’s never-say-die attitude would be perfect in Brad Fittler’s team as a winger or centre.

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Jamie Soward (Former Blues five-eighth)

Roosters lock Victor Radley has all the skills and is versatile enough to come off the bench and play anywhere. Tyrone Peachey was the Blues' super sub last year but he faces a challenge to hold his spot.

Margie McDonald ( senior reporter)

My heart says Jayson Bukuya because he’s a smart and mobile second-rower – great off the bench to annoy tiring NSW forwards. But the Fijian international turns 30 before Origin I and time is running out for him. So my head says Christian Welch – a good, barnstorming Storm type whose no-nonsense approach will be welcomed by Queensland and he can reunite with former teammate Tim Glasby.

Tanisha Stanton ( reporter)

Victor Radley has cemented his spot in the Roosters line-up after a breakout season in 2018. The 21-year-old is definitely one young gun who has put his hand up for Origin selection this year, proving each week he is capable of producing a solid performance no matter what position coach Trent Robinson puts him in. Not only would his versatility be an asset to the Blues' line-up but his aggressive nature in defence is a perfect fit for that arena.

Zac Bailey ( reporter)

Victor Radley is the ultimate competitor made for the Origin arena. He never takes a backwards step, loves getting among the tough stuff, can pull off game-changing plays and has the brain to go with it. The young Rooster would be an ideal utility option on the NSW Blues bench due to his ability to play several positions.

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Dan Walsh ( reporter)

Tom Trbojevic’s dodgy hamstring and James Roberts’ on and off-field struggles put Raiders flyer Nick Cotric well and truly in the frame for Origin. Has already had a taste as 18th man last year, a fitting reward for his 149 tackle busts and 20 line breaks in 2018. With Canberra off to a decent start the 20-year-old is beginning to replicate that form again too after a quiet first two weeks of 2019.

Brad Walter ( senior reporter)

Cameron Murray. With Jack de Belin unavailable due to the NRL’s "no-fault stand down" policy, Murray looms as an ideal replacement at lock for NSW after his impressive early-season form with South Sydney. The Rabbitohs forward is strong, smart and energetic, with a high work rate needed at Origin level.

Paul Suttor ( editor)

With Jake Trbojevic a certainty to be elevated to starting lock for NSW, coach Brad Fittler needs an interchange forward and he should look no further than Dale Finucane. The Storm forward is the type of player which every successful Origin pack needs when the going gets tough. 

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Chris Kennedy ( reporter)

New Zealand play Oceania Cup games with two Tests against Great Britain in November and at the rate he’s going, young Sharks forward Briton Nikora will be an absolute moral to see game time in a black and white jersey. The most recent Kiwi squad was heavy on middle forwards, with Roosters lock Isaac Liu shoe-horned into an edge role and Titan Kevin Proctor not getting any younger. Nikora is the classic edge forward and an excellent line runner, plus he has struck up a wonderful combination with Kiwi playmaker Shaun Johnson at the Sharks which will only boost his already strong claims.

Corey Rosser ( reporter)

Kiwis coach Michael Maguire needs to get Dylan Brown into a black jersey as soon as he can ... and as soon as he's back to full fitness. The Parramatta teenager has played only three first-grade games, but has already shown enough to suggest he's the best person to partner Shaun Johnson in the halves for New Zealand.

Maria Tsialis (Big League editor)

I feel like I've been waiting an eternity to see Dale Finucane play for NSW and this year should be his shot. Not only is he excelling week-in, week-out for the Storm, there's a vacant spot in the starting back row - meaning you could shift Jake Trbojevic to the interchange, where he was extremely impactful last series.

Brett Keeble ( reporter)

Roosters wild thing Victor Radley looks purpose-built to play State of Origin. He is aggressive, works hard, fears nothing, and has handled the pressure of playing finals. Origin seems a natural next step for a 21-year-old tear-away who has already won an NRL premiership and World Club Challenge.

Lone Scout (NRL Fantasy expert)

The Blues will be on the lookout for a new middle forward and in-form Rabbitohs lock Cameron Murray looks readymade for the role. Having thrived at NRL level as a bench impact player and as a starter, Murray is a rock-solid defender and handy ball-player who also has a knack for busting the line, eating up big meters and grabbing the odd try. The fact he’s an NRL Fantasy gem doesn’t hurt either.

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Jonathan Healy ( reporter)

The Blues could do much worse than choosing Chad Townsend for an Origin debut. The Sharks halfback is one of the most consistent players in the game and there's no reason why he wouldn't be able to replicate that type of club form at representative level.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)

Cameron Murray is an exceptional young player and I don't think he would look out of place in a sky blue jersey. What I love the most is he is a player that has leadership potential - already captaining the NSW under 20s side last season. Murray is the next generation of Blues player and I think would thrive in the representative environment under Brad Fittler.

Scott Hazlewood ( reporter)

Nick Cotric. After being named in the Emerging Blues squad, should again be in the frame for a berth with NSW if he can continue the upward arc of his young career. He led the NRL in tackle breaks last year and goes looking for work to help Canberra get out of his own end and rarely makes a mistake in defence despite still only being 20 years old.    

Kenny Scott ( podcaster)

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad is in the early stages of a breakout year with the Raiders and may just play himself into a Kiwi jersey in 2019. While Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has a lock on New Zealand's fullback position, there could be room for another speedster with three initials somewhere in the backs. With the team in need of a shake up, coach Michael Maguire could do worse than to take a "Charnze" on the up and coming former Warrior.

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Alicia Newton ( reporter)

Manase Fainu. The Sea Eagles hooker is keeping starting rake Api Koroisau honest on the northern beaches with three tries in three appearances already. Fainu missed last year’s end-of-season Tests for Tonga through an off-field suspension. He’s battling Penrith’s Sione Katoa for an international jersey in 2019. 

Tony Webeck ( reporter)

There is a match-winning way about Storm centre Curtis Scott that makes him a certain representative player of the future. Big and strong, he can run the length like anyone and given James Roberts’s shaky start to the season would be a perfect replacement, and someone who would be very hard to displace moving forward.

Joel Gould ( reporter)

Broncos forward Jaydn Su’A was called into Maroons camp last year and was on the cusp of selection until he got injured. The 21-year-old is a Ben Te’o clone and damaging in the middle or on an edge, and suited to Origin footy. He is yet to hit his straps in 2019 and may not get selected for game one of the Origin series but look out for him to get a crack at some stage.

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARLC, NRL clubs or state associations.

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