It’s been an agonising six years for me, and the other New South Wales supporters. Probably has been a long six years for the players and coaches too. On the verge of this side being named on Sunday – I will put my best Blues team forward which I would like Ricky Stuart to pick for game one.
Fullback: Anthony Minichello (Roosters)
Watching the Roosters fullback this season is like turning back a clock. Minichello has been in brilliant form. No trouble finding the line and has no fears of being the last line of defence. Seeing him in the sky blue jersey last year showed us all that ‘The Count’ is not finished in representative football. I back Mini to be the custodian for this Blues side and have 100% faith that he can do the job.
Wingers: Brett Morris (Dragons) and Akuila Uate (Knights)
Brett Morris has been getting back in to form this year after shifting to fullback. His confidence seems to be sky high and has found his try scoring mojo again. Hitting the line with a quick turn of pace leads to many line breaks. Exactly what NSW need.
Uate has been solid, but nothing flash this season for Newcastle. Perhaps his form is a bit dented due to his side under-performing too but we all saw how comfortable he was last year in Origin. He is the type of player that can change a game with a single barnstorming run. He stepped up to the mark for the Kangaroos earlier in the year too and I expect just that once again from the Fijian.
Centres: Josh Morris (Bulldogs) and Michael Jennings (Panthers)
Josh Morris too has taken his form up another gear this season. Renowned for being able to find the line in seasons gone by, his involvement levels this season are a vital ingredient to success. Also with the loss of Mark Gasnier to retirement he needs to step up and fill that gap.
Michael Jennings has had his fair share up injury concerns and disciplinary actions in the last season, but take all that away and what to you get? Michael Jennings – game breaker. Ominous with ball in hand and has the ability to make something out of nothing. A game breaker.
Halves: Todd Carney (Sharks) and Mitchell Pearce (Roosters)
Todd Carney has a new lease on life at Cronulla. His form has been league leading and is flourishing in a successful environment. One of my personal favourite players to watch, he has a wide range of skills that can make him such an unbeatable player. Whether he has the ball on a string kicking, or running to the line Carney is a devastating player.
Mitchell Pearce with every performance this season has shown he is the halfback for the Blues. A tough defender as well as a brilliant leader, Pearce has the wisdom handed down from his father. These two also had a lot of chemistry at the Roosters together which will only add good things to this combination.
Props: Paul Gallen (Sharks) and Michael Weyman (Dragons)
The heart and soul of this side, Gallen is up there as the best forward the game has seen in decades. I picked him at prop due to this being the best fit for the side. He proved himself worthy in Origin last year as a decent prop and is a player who others thrive playing off. He is New South Wales.
Michael Weyman is the fittest he’s ever been I think, and this is playing him in to the starting side. An outstanding season so far, Weyman needs to carry this form over to represent his state. A big game player with the passion and dedication for success.
Hooker: Michael Ennis (Bulldogs)
With Danny Buderus sidelined currently with an Achilles injury, Ennis will step up to the Origin plate. He has proven to be capable and with his niggle to get under the Queenslanders skin his fit is perfect for this role once more. Has spilt more than enough blood for his state, he is more than prepared to do it all again too. A gutsy player who is a great leader too.
Second-Rowers: Ben Creagh (Dragons) and Glenn Stewart (Sea Eagles)
Ben Creagh is a proven hard man with a thirst for Origin. A player who really stood up last season. Always able to get the offload away, he is hard to wrap up and with his team mates aware of this it can lead to points. Defensively sound also, he is an 80 minute player who knows what to do when the pressure is poured on.
Glenn Stewart has been an angry man this season, and this has been good to watch. Totes himself as a ball playing second rower, he does not lack confidence or ability and is a danger man for me in this side. You never know quite what you will get with Stewart, but I know he has what it takes to make himself counted.
Lock: Luke Lewis (Panthers)
Luke Lewis was the best player the Blues has last season. Filling a spot off the bench, he added an undeniable influence on the game. Lewis has always been a great player, but steps it up big time when it really counts. Just think about his performance against the Kiwis in April. Lewis is a ball player with immense talent and experience who has reckless abandon for his body on defence.
Robbie Farah (Tigers)
Early on I would have been a bit sceptical about adding Farah to this side, but the way he has been playing he cannot be left out. Winning games with his attack and saving games with his defence I think Farah is in the best form of his career and has the added spark this team needs to succeed.
Trent Merrin (Dragons)
One of the most outstanding players in Origin last year, I think Merrin will be back once more. The representative appearances last season has only made the man grow as a player. He does not understand backwards and packs a powerful punch with the ball.
Tariq Sims (Cowboys)
A bolter. Sims has been dying to prove his worth and I believe he will get a shot. This kid has the world at his feet and deserves a shot to show it. His form has been menacing and even after returning after a broken leg last season he has not lost anything in the way of confidence or power. A mature player who has been punching well above his weight in his career.
Anthony Watmough (Sea Eagles)
A monster of a player who will just be waiting to be unleashed on to the field. Has a physical presence which I certainly fear and Watmough has the ability to defend his heart out if need be. A hard running player who has only one goal which is to go forward. Hard to stop.
18th Man: Tom Learoyd-Lars (Raiders)
There it is, my team that I hope Ricky Stuart picks on Sunday. A bit thin on props but I think the way all forwards can be rotated, that this will not be an issue.
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