Enough injured talent to form a quality third lineup as coaches face selection dilemmas for Game 1



The statistical weight of history is against the team losing the first game in a State of Origin series.

It has only happened nine times in the 42 series since the advent of the three-match contest in 1982.

And often the rot appears long before the start of the series on the sorting table.

Think back to 12 months ago when you first heard the Blues had chosen Tevita Pangai jnr as their starting prop for a ready-made example of how a snowball can turn into an avalanche.

For new Blues coach Michael Maguire and Queensland’s Billy Slater, as he attempts to lift the shield for the third time in as many attempts, the Cockroaches and Cane Toads’ best-laid plans have gone awry due to a series of injuries.

You could cobble together a high-quality Out of Origin combo team with the unavailable stars.

Out of origin

1 Kalyn Ponga
2 Tom Trbojevic
3 Kotoni deer
4 Bradman Best
5Campbell Graham
6 Cameron Munster
7Nathan Cleary
8 Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
9Wayde Egan
10Tom Flegler
11 Cameron Murray
12Kurt Capewell
13Tom Gilbert
14 Mitchell Moses
15Ryan Papenhuyzen
16 Corey Horsburgh
17Coen Hess
18Clint Gutherson

With these names off the table, here are the crucial calls both teams will face when they finalize their squads on Sunday after ensuring no more big names are ruled out of the remaining Round 12 matches.

New south Wales

Fullback: Dylan Edwards on James Tedesco. Maguire needs to be bold. There will never be a better time to make a change in this key position. No one is saying that Tedesco is finished or that he hasn’t performed outstandingly for the Blues, but he is no longer the best option at full-back, plain and simple.

Left wing: Joseph Suaalii ahead of Josh Addo-Carr or Zac Lomax. Pre-selection rumors had been that Lomax was at the helm, but now Suaalii is firming up to debut. He would give the Blues a height advantage for aerial contests, especially with Selwyn Cobbo and Xavier Coates likely on the Queensland flanks. Addo-Carr’s impact has diminished since he joined the Bulldogs last year and he does not appear to possess the same explosive speed that made him the NRL’s leading attacking threat when he was in Melbourne.

Brian To’o is tackled. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Center: Jesse Ramien as Stephen Crichton’s partner. With Crichton able to play on either side, Ramien is a specialist on the right side and with Bradman Best and Kotoni Staggs injured, the Sharks star should make his debut unless Matt Burton is rejected at five-eighth and is required. Latrell Mitchell does not deserve a retirement due to his limited appearances for the Souths this season.

Five eighth: Burton over Jarome Luai or Cody Walker. Large five-eighths bodies tend to do better. He has been in top form in key areas for five-eighths and would be a complementary option alongside Nicho Hynes at halfback.

Left front: Angus Crichton. The Roosters veteran’s recent resurgence in form has resolved a headache for Maguire. He should get the nod ahead of Manly right forward Haumole Olakau’atu and Canberra left footer Hudson Young.

Media: Payne Haas will definitely be the leader of the NSW pack with Isaah Yeo liaising with the halves and Jake Trbojevic and Cameron McInnes doing the dirty work. That leaves room for Stefano Utoikamanu or Reagan Campbell-Gillard to get the nod ahead of Newcastle’s Saifiti twins.

Canberra Raiders

v

Sydney Roosters

Exaggerate

NRL: Face to face

Saturday, May 25, 2024, 3:00 p.m.

cronulla sharks

v

Penrith Panthers

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NRL: Face to face

Saturday, May 25, 2024, 5:30 p.m.

South Sydney Rabbitohs

v

Parramatta Eels

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NRL: Face to face

Saturday, May 25, 2024, 7:35 p.m.

Brisbane Broncos

v

Titans of the Gold Coast

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NRL: Face to face

Sunday, May 26, 2024, 2:00 p.m.

New Zealand Warriors

v

dolphins

Exaggerate

NRL: Face to face

Sunday, May 26, 2024, 16:05

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Bank impact: Olakau’atu and Young will likely be fighting for a spot unless the Blues pick both second towers and switch to Crichton or Liam Martin mid-game. Young has the speed to fill in at center if necessary rather than the Blues going with a designated halfback like they did with Clint Gutherson in Origin III and warmed the bench for 77 minutes.

blue Team

1Dylan Edwards
2 Brian To’o
3 Stephen Crichton
4Jesse Ramian
5 José Suaalii
6Matt Burton
7Hynes Niche
8Payne Haas
9Api Koroisau
10Jake Trbojevic
11Angus Crichton
12 Liam Martin
13 Isaiah Yeo (c)
14 Cameron McInnes
15 Haumole Olakau’atu
16Hudson Young
17 Stefano Utoikamanu
18 Reagan Campbell-Gillard

queensland

Right edge: Valentine Holmes (judicial pending) and Coates will join on the left, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow and Selwyn Cobbo will form a combination on the right. The Hammer has excelled at fullback this year after being shuffled back and forth between center for the Dolphins last year. Cobbo has excelled in the center for the Broncos after moving from the wing, but unless Holmes is knocked out with a hip drop, he will return to the Maroons’ flank ahead of Murray Taulagi.

Five eighth: Tom Dearden is next in line, although Ezra Mam is the more dynamic option. Maroons don’t work that way. Slater has reinforced how Queensland likes players to pay their dues to earn their legendary jersey and while Mam is more likely to generate points, Dearden is a better bet to ensure the Maroons don’t concede more than they should.

Tom Dearden runs the ball for Queensland

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Pack Leader: Carrigan to ruffle feathers without Tino. The Maroons have always had a forward get under the Blues’ skin with Felise Kaufusi and Josh Papali’i in recent years, following in the footsteps of Nate Myles, Sam Thaiday and company. Fa’asuamaleaui had taken up the torch, but with the towering Titan recovering from knee surgery, Carrigan looks Queensland’s best bet to take on the Blues in concert with fellow great Lindsay Collins and workhorse Reuben Cotter.

Backrest bench: Moeaki Fotuaika is likely to fill the relief role off the bench in the middle with Tom Flegler out. J’maine Hopgood, Christian Welch and a left field option like Kobe Hetherington could also fill a trade spot.

maroon team

1 Reece Walsh
2 Xavier Coates
3Valentine Holmes
4 Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
5Selwyn Cobbo
6Tom Dearden
7Daly Cherry-Evans (c)
8Lindsay Collins
9Ben Hunt
10 Ruben Cotter
11 David Fifita
12 Jeremiah Nanai
13 Patrick Carrigan
14Harry Grant
15 J’maine Hopgood
16 Moeaki Fotuaika
17 Christian Welch
18 Ezra Mom

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