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With the World Cup at the end of the season, Origin form will have a significant influence on the selection of the Kangaroos squad and a handful of players enhanced their chances in the series opener.

While James Tedesco and Cameron Munster are considered certain selections, most positions are up for grabs as Australia has not played a Test since 2019 due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NSW coach Brad Fittler and his Queensland counterpart Billy Slater will help Kangaroos mentor Mal Meninga select the squad at the end of the season and they will put a lot of stock into how players perform in Origin and finals   

1. Selwyn Cobbo

Cobbo made his Origin debut after just 19 NRL appearances
Cobbo made his Origin debut after just 19 NRL appearances ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

The Broncos winger, who turned 20 just days ago, wasn't even on the radar for Origin selection at the start of the season but now after 19 NRL matches and one appearance in a Maroons jersey Cobbo could be packing his bags at the end of the season.

Blues coach Brad Fittler had put Cobbo on notice before the game by warning on Origin eve that he would be tested in the forecast windy conditions by Nathan Cleary's kicking game but he handled everything thrown at him, and more.

With the game evenly poised, Cobbo laid on a crucial try just before halftime for Dane Gagai after dancing down the western touchline of Accor Stadium and kicking in field for his right edge partner.

Gagai scores a special Origin try

 2. Jack Wighton

Wighton was arguably NSW's best player
Wighton was arguably NSW's best player ©Grant Trouville/NRL Photos

Brad Fittler's selection of Wighton at centre was widely criticised before the game by those who thought the NSW coach should have paired Stephen Crichton with his Penrith team-mate Brian To'o on the left edge but he was arguably the Blues best player.

It doesn't matter what number Wighton has on his back the Raiders five-eighth plays the same and he put forward claims for Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga to include him somewhere in the World Cup squad.

Wighton scored a try and was a constant threat to the Maroons defence, while producing some stinging defence.

Wighton hits Collins with everything

3. Valentine Holmes

Valentine Holmes celebrates his match winning try in Origin I
Valentine Holmes celebrates his match winning try in Origin I ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

The last match Holmes played before quitting the Sharks at the end of the 2018 season to have a shot at making it in the NFL was a Test against Tonga and the Kangaroos haven't played since his return in 2020.

With Tom Trbojevic ruled out of World Cup following a shoulder reconstruction, Holmes has put himself in contention for a centre spot after carrying his form with the Cowboys into the Origin arena. 

Holmes scored a try, landed two goals and carried the ball 148 metres but his biggest contribution may have been racing back to clean up a James Tedesco kick with Nathan Cleary and Damien Cook chasing hard for the ball in the 70th minute.

A super Origin effort from Holmes

4. Daly Cherry-Evans 

Cherry-Evans won his halfback dual with Nathan Cleary
Cherry-Evans won his halfback dual with Nathan Cleary ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

If a Kangaroos team had been selected at the end of last season Nathan Cleary would have been odds on to wrest the No.7 jersey from Cherry-Evans but the Sea Eagles and Maroons captain produced a strong case for why he should continue calling the shots at the World Cup.

Cleary was below par for the Blues, but Cherry-Evans turned in his best performance of the season when it counted.

Besides scoring a second half try, Cherry Evans finished with 25 tackles and made 420 metres from 13 kicks to keep the pressure on the Blues.     

DCE strolls over from the scrum

5. Harry Grant

Grant helped turn the momentum of Origin I midway through the first half
Grant helped turn the momentum of Origin I midway through the first half ©Gregg Porteous/NRL Photos

The Storm hooker played 43 minutes from the interchange for Queensland and his introduction into the fray midway through the first half helped turn the momentum of the match.

The Blues were on top in the early stages but Grant and interchange forward Patrick Carrigan lifted the tempo and intensity for the Maroons and NSW struggled to keep pace.

Grant made eight runs from dummy half for 70 metres and his four tackle breaks were second only to Storm team-mate Cameron Munster, who he helped to energise into a man-of-the-match performance for Queensland.

It seems only a matter of time before Grant takes over the Australian No.9 jersey but the biggest question for Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga will be whether that happens at the World Cup or he plays in tandem with Ben Hunt or Damien Cook.  

Hunt in awe of partner Grant

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