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Experts' view: NSW team for Origin I

After a shock series loss in 2020, NSW coach Brad Fittler has some interesting selection decisions ahead as he seeks to regain the Origin shield.

What to do in the centres? Who will be the starting props? Who'll wear the No.13 jersey? They're just three of the more vexing questions.

Ahead of the Blues team for Game I being named on May 30, the experts at NRL.com have come up with their own 17-man squads. 

Next Wednesday, the same experts will come up with their Queensland teams for the series opener at the MCG on June 9.

Because Origin isn’t motivated by victory, it’s powered by rivalry

Experts' view - Blues team for Origin I

Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Clint Gutherson 
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. David Klemmer
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Jake Trbojevic 
13. Cameron Murray
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Angus Crichton 
16. Ryan Matterson
17. Wade Graham 

Their club teams might not be going great, but David Klemmer, Payne Haas and Wade Graham are all good enough to make a difference at this level.

Pick your Blues Origin team

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Brett Kimmorley (Former Test halfback)

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Stephen Crichton
5. Brian To'o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Daniel Saifiti
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Cameron Murray
12. Angus Crichton
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Victor Radley
15. Dale Finucane
16. Jack Wighton
17. Payne Haas

It was a tough decision whether to pick Jake Trbojevic or Isaah Yeo at lock. Both have plenty to offer, but in the end, Jake's ability to also play as a prop got him over the line.

Pick your Maroons Origin team

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Jamie Soward (2010 premiership winner)

1. James Tedesco
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas 
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Cameron Murray
12. Angus Crichton
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Regan Campbell-Gillard
16. Jake Trbojevic
17. Victor Radley

Combinations will be key this year and Cleary needs Yeo in the team to help his style. 

Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers great)

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Brian To'o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Junior Paulo
9. Damien Cook
10. Daniel Saifiti
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Angus Crichton
13. Victor Radley
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Cameron Murray
16. Payne Haas
17. Isaah Yeo

Working out who will start and who'll come off the bench among the back-rowers and locks wasn't easy. Yeo and Murray offer plenty of versatility coming off the interchange bench.

Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League) 

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Brian To'o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Tariq Sims
12. Angus Crichton
13. Cameron Murray
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
16. Daniel Saifiti
17. Victor Radley

The hardest position to select was the second row. I know plenty expect Tyson Frizell to take the spot I have allocated to Tariq Sims, but Sims has been a shining light in a patchy Dragons team this year and will certainly bring energy to that spot.

Soward and Chammas pick their Blues teams for Origin I

Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)

1. James Tedesco
2. Tom Trbojevic
3. Jack Wighton
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Daniel Saifiti
9. Damien Cook
10. Payne Haas
11. Angus Crichton
12. Tyson Frizell
13. Cameron Murray
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Victor Radley
16. Junior Paulo
17. Jake Trbojevic

Choosing Jarome Luai because of his halves partnership with Nathan Cleary over Cody Walker, whose combinations with Latrell Mitchell, Jack Wighton, Damien Cook and Cameron Murray are proven at club and representative level.

Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Brian To'o
6. Jack Wighton
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. David Klemmer
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Angus Crichton
13. Cameron Murray
14. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
15. Ryan Papenhuyzen
16. Ryan Matterson
17. Jake Trbojevic

Brian To'o has been in superb form and cannot be denied an Origin debut and while Ryan Matterson has been in and out of Parra's line-up this year, his efforts over the last couple of years deserve recognition as an impact edge forward off the bench.

Was this the crackdown the NRL had to have?

Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)

1. James Tedesco
2. Daniel Tupou
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Stephen Crichton
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary 
8. Daniel Saifiti
9. Damien Cook
10. Payne Haas
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Angus Crichton
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Jake Trbojevic 
16. Junior Paulo
17. Cameron Murray

The bench make-up was the hardest area but based on the new rules in place going for mobile forwards was the key.

Paul Zalunardo (NRL.com senior journalist)

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Daniel Tupou
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. Jake Trbojevic
11. Cameron Murray
12. Angus Crichton
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Victor Radley
16. Junior Paulo
17. Daniel Saifiti

Having Paulo and Saifiti coming off the bench at about the 25-minute mark will give NSW the chance to make big inroads in the middle of the park. Radley and Papenhuyzen - also off the bench - are game-breakers. 

Addo-Carr grabs another hat-trick

Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)

1. James Tedesco
2. Tom Trbojevic
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Jack Wighton
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Angus Crichton
12. Cameron Murray
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Victor Radley
15. Daniel Saifiti
16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
17. Ryan Papenhuyzen

The right centre was a flip of a coin but even with last year’s defensive issues out wide Wighton offers the biggest body on David Fifita’s edge, and still has the attacking prowess to expose Queensland’s own centre option – likely a makeshift one.

Zac Bailey (NRL.com reporter)

1. James Tedesco
2. Brian To’o
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Junior Paulo
9. Damien Cook
10. Payne Haas
11. Cameron Murray
12. Angus Crichton
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Victor Radley
16. Daniel Saifiti
17. Tyson Frizell

The hardest selection was finding a second-rower to start alongside Crichton and fill the final spot on the Blues bench. For the first time in years, I feel like NSW have a huge range of middle forwards to choose from, but are skinny on in-form edge forwards.

Cleary finishes the game how he started

Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Daniel Tupou
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Tyson Frizell
12. Angus Crichton
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Daniel Saifiti
16. Cameron Murray
17. Jake Trbojevic

I couldn’t find a sport for in-form Eels skipper Clint Gutherson, Panthers winger Brian To’o or Roosters lock Victor Radley, though Radley comes in if Cameron Murray isn’t fit. Bringing back Mitchell and debuting Luai though were easy decisions and Isaah Yeo has to start at lock.

Troy Whittaker (NRL.com reporter)

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Brian To’o
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Junior Paulo
9. Damien Cook
10. Daniel Saifiti
11. Angus Crichton
12. Tyson Frizell
13. Victor Radley
14. Ryan Papenhuyzen
15. Payne Haas
16. Dale Finucane
17. Cameron Murray 

It was very tough to leave out reigning Dally M Medallist Jack Wighton, but Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell were impossible to overlook in the centres while Jarome Luai’s combination with Nathan Cleary earned him the five-eighth nod.

Behind the scenes with JT

Lone Scout (NRL.com Fantasy guru)

1. James Tedesco
2. Josh Addo-Carr
3. Tom Trbojevic
4. Latrell Mitchell
5. Daniel Tupou
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Payne Haas
9. Damien Cook
10. Junior Paulo
11. Angus Crichton
12. Tyson Frizell
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Cody Walker
15. Cameron Murray
16. Daniel Saifiti
17. Reagan Campbell-Gillard

A successful club combination gives the edge to Jarome Luai and Isaah Yeo alongside Panthers No.7 Nathan Cleary, although Daniel Tupou’s aerial prowess just gives him the edge over in-form Penrith winger Brian To’o. Cody Walker’s ability to cover fullback or the halves pips Ryan Papenhuyzen for the bench utility role.

Papenhuyzen sends Addo-Carr over

Martin Lenehan (NRL.com senior journalist)

1. James Tedesco
2. Brian To’o
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jack Wighton
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Junior Paulo
9. Damien Cook
10. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
11. Angus Crichton
12. Cameron Murray
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Victor Radley
15. Daniel Saifiti
16. Isaah Yeo
17. Ryan Papenhuyzen

The Raiders have been struggling and Jack Wighton has been below his best so giving him the nod over Jarome Luai was a tough call but Wighton is made for Origin and he’s been there and done it before.

Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)

1. James Tedesco
2. Brian To’o
3. Latrell Mitchell
4. Tom Trbojevic
5. Josh Addo-Carr
6. Jarome Luai
7. Nathan Cleary
8. Junior Paulo
9. Damien Cook
10. Daniel Saifiti
11. Cameron Murray
12. Angus Crichton
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Victor Radley
15. David Klemmer
16. Reagan Campbell-Gillard
17. Ryan Papenhuyzen

Selecting To’o on the wing is a risk considering the potential height differences between him and the likely Maroons’ wing selections but his form this year has been so outstanding he is deserving of a spot. Leaving out Payne Hass for Klemmer is also contentious but he is the perfect player for origin and off the bench can provide the grunt and passion needed for the format.

 

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