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It's said that rugby league is a game of inches – and that's often the case in State of Origin, where players are pushed to their limits and every small moment counts.

Telstra Tracker data from the 2020 NRL season provides us with an insight into who the game-changers might be, perhaps with a burst of speed, repeated efforts, sustained intensity or non-stop movement.

Of the players set to feature at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday night, NSW halfback Nathan Cleary is projected to cover the most overall distance, having averaged 9.5 kilometres per match as he guided Penrith to the grand final this year.

Blues rookies Clint Gutherson and Luke Keary rank next with 9.2km per match, though Gutherson's output may decrease given he's playing centre, not fullback, in his Origin debut.

Queensland captain and halfback Daly Cherry-Evans (8.9km) leads the way for his team, followed by second-rower Coen Hess (8.2km) and Cameron Munster (7.9km) further down the overall list.

NSW second-rower Tyson Frizell (8.6km) and hooker Damien Cook (8.2) have upstaged many backs in that department.

Cleary (10.3km) and Blues reserve Zac Lomax (10.2km) were the only Origin players to surpass 10km in one match, with Gutherson (9.9km) just missing.

Unsurprisingly, NSW winger Josh Addo-Carr will be the fastest man on the field going by the statistics having again topped the NRL this season with a best speed of 37.2km/h.

Maroons winger Xavier Coates (36.9km/h) was the equal-second fastest NRL player of 2020. Gutherson (35.1km/h), rookie Queensland fullback AJ Brimson (34.9km), NSW No.1 James Tedesco (34.7km/h) and Frizell (34.2km/h) have shown they're capable of blazing the turf.

Frizell aside, Hess (33.9km/h), Blues second-rower Angus Crichton (33km/h) and Queensland youngster Tino Fa'asuamaleaui (32.6km/h) are the fastest forwards by their recent numbers.

Gutherson has been the king of high-speed efforts – bursts of 20km/h or more. The Eels captain racked up a season-high of 45, with Tedesco (41) the next-best of the eligible Origin players.

Queensland outside back Dane Gagai (37), Brimson (35), Blues centre Jack Wighton (35) and Luke Keary (34) posted strong PBs as well.

Gutherson is also the most consistent in terms of high-speed efforts, boasting the highest average of 34 per match in 2020, besting Brimson (27), Tedesco (24), Keary (23), Wighton (23) and Frizell (22).

In last year's Origin series, won 2-1 by NSW, Cleary covered the most distance in a game with a best of 9.1km.

Queensland ace Kalyn Ponga, who is injured at the moment, was next with 8.7km ahead of Munster (8.6km), Cherry-Evans (8.5km) and overlooked Blues halfback Mitchell Pearce (8.4km).

The Maroons dominated high-speed efforts in 2019 – unselected duo Corey Oates and Moses Mbye having the most with 40. Munster (36) again wasn't far away alongside Gagai while the injured Tom Trbojevic (36) was the lone Blue on the top five leaderboard.

Addo-Carr recorded the top speed of 35.9km, edging NSW teammates Trbojevic (35.5km/h) and Josh Morris (34.3km/h), who has since retired from rep footy. Gagai and Oates (33.8km/h) were close behind.

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National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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