By Stephen Gallagher
2014, eight years of hearts feeling blue ended. It was a stunning performance by the New South Wales Blues to overcome that Maroon juggernaut – and you know what? As a long suffering Blues fan – it was bloody sweet.
This year, there are a few injuries hurting the Blues. A few players out of form who didn’t make the cut, and a few players out of form who did. This is the side Laurie Daley has picked to take on the Queenslanders at ANZ Stadium this Wednesday and the rundown on each player.
NEW SOUTH WALES
- Josh Dugan
This is the guy that’s going to hurt Queensland from the back. His form of late has been deadly, and with an inch of space, he’ll run hard and with lots of agility. If he has one good run for every tattoo on his body there will be plenty to cheer about.
- Daniel Tupou.
When there’s a bomb going to his wing, I got $5 that he’ll catch it. Taniela is as talented can be. He’s a rangy bloke that’s got devistating size.
- Josh Morris
He’s always going to be there, this Bulldog has plenty of bite. A solid selection in the centres.
- Michael Jennings
He is the most talented Jennings in his family right now, but that might be due to injuries to his brothers. Whenever he has the ball in hand – I watch. Great gutsy runner and makes the tackles on defence.
- Will Hopoate
This to me is the only selection I have a bit of a problem with. With Richards, Tedesco, Mata’utia, Mansour on his heels – I find it hard to believe his form since his return in 2014 has been good enough to warrant a selection. I hope he proves me wrong.
- Mitchell Pearce
Most Blues fans probably cried hearing Pearce was selected – so I might be the only one on his side. He’s a bloody talent this fella and is so overdue to perform and take control at Origin level.
- Trent Hodkinson
This Doggy was the backbone of their success at club level last year, and gave it his all at Representative level last year too. A no brainer with selection despite worries around his form.
- James Tamou
Aussie Jim, Palmerston North’s finest New South Welshman. Regardless of whether he is Australian or not – he has been really good in North Queensland’s success this season. He will back it up on Wednesday.
- Robbie Farah
He is a beast. This guy is a model of what State Of Origin is based around. This guy will carry the Blues on his shoulders.
10. Aaron Woods
If Origin success was measured in hairs length, Woods would win the shield single handedly. Luckily, his luscious locks are built on a hard hitting body. This guy is a talent.
11. Beau Scott.
Not many people Beau Scott, but I am sure he is happy with that. His hard runs teamed up with his never say die attitude are a much needed thing on this side.
12. Ryan Hoffman
One of the Warriors best this year, he was always going to back up for NSW. He is such a trooper, and despite a few head knocks in the last month – he will be ready and he will be at his best.
13. Josh Jackson
On debut, there will be plenty of eyes on this kid. Will be take a step back? Not a chance. He’s played alongside some absolute heavyweights in the Bulldogs. He is built for this.
Trent Merrin, Boyd Cordner, David Klemmer and Andrew Fifita are a mix of experience, bulk and raw passion. Four big boppers coming off the bench to inflict pain on the Queenslanders is always a good thing. Plenty to be excited about. I am concerned about David Klemmer – hope he can play hard without being a dickhead.
Mal Meninga knows the recipe for success – and it hasn’t changed much over the last nine years. He has been a firm believer in loyalty and picking the guys to get the job done right. Despite not winning the series last season – he still has the core of the most successful Origin reign in history.
- Billy Slater
Billy the kid is a trooper, Australia missed him as they were soundly beaten by the Kiwis a few weeks ago. His direction from the back will be pinnacle for the Maroons. This guy is so talented and has gotten better with age.
- Darius Boyd
Two games under his belt this NRL season? Doesn’t matter. He always steps up for Origin. Finishing off slick Queensland backline moves. Such a terrific performer at rep level.
- Greg Inglis
With ball in hand – I don’t think I could back anyone else to score a try from anywhere on the field. GI is a freak. Absolute freak! If he finds half a gap, he will take it and he will punish the Blues. He’s done it time and time again.
- Justin Hodges
The only weak link in this backline. He is too injury prone, and I think a lot of Queenslanders will agree. A liability. But when he gets going, he will be a real thorn for the Blues. A seasoned campaigner who loves to stir with his talent.
- Will Chambers
It’s been an exciting year for Will Chambers, and this is just another step for him. He’s been fantastic in Melbourne, and will deliver strongly for the Queenslanders when a bomb is kicked, or the ball is spread to his wing.
- Johnathan Thurston
Oh yeah, only the most talented player in the game. Only a player who can easily one handedly dismantle the Blues. Only a player who can make something so complicated turn in to something so simple. The man.
- Cooper Cronk
Oh yeah, just Cooper Cronk. Just another premiership winning Queenslander who has plenty of confidence. Part of Melbourne’s big three – and has the ball on a string. A strong Cronk kicking game could spell the end for NSW.
- Matt Scott
Much like your favourite red wine, he gets better with age. Matt Scott has more energy than most players. Relentless at running in to human brick walls.
- Cameron Smith
Smith is a guy you want to play along side and makes you proud to be a Queenslander. He’s the kinda guy who leads by his actions and someone you never want to let down. He is phenomenal.
10. Nate Myles
Recently penning a deal with Manly-Warringah, Myles is a constant in this Maroons team. Never a backwards step taken by this fella – and he will cause the Blues headaches.
11. Aidan Guerra
The Italian Stallion. Guerra was a shining light in a disappointing Queensland side last season. He’s been groomed as one of those guys who will still be there in ten years and I agree. Love watching him play, he is solid.
12. Sam Thaiday
It was early this season his contract was on the line in Brisbane – that’s feels like it was a world away. Thaiday never lets anyone down, and the only thing better than seeing him run with ball in hand, is seeing his hair bounce with his step.
13. Corey Parker
Why is Corey Parker so good? He has got an offload that’ll wreck any team, and that makes him so deadly. Parker is the best grey-haired player in the history of the NRL. He is always been so competitive in Origin too.
Michael Morgan, Josh McGuire, Matt Gillett, Jacob Lillyman.
This is exciting for Queensland as they unearth Morgan as the newest talent alongside Samoan superhero Josh McGuire. This bench is a little undersized compared to New South Wales – but they’ve picked guys who have potential, and guys with a successful Origin record. Hard to argue against.
I am absolutely fizzing for Wednesday. People say Origin is dead since the Kiwis own the international state right now, but that’s a lie in my eyes. It’s time for the Blues to show that last season’s Origin series victory was deserved, and for the Queenslanders to prove that they are not too old to get up again.
At ANZ Stadium, it is the Blues game to lose – and the Queenslanders will absolutely throw it all – and try claim game one.
I got the Blues to win this one 22-12. Aaron Woods to score the first try.
Bring on State Of Origin 2015!
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