NSW coach Brad Fittler has revealed that Blues captain Boyd Cordner is his only guaranteed selection for Origin. The announcement that 16 of the 17 spots are up for grabs will no doubt inspire the hopefuls to put their best feet forward over the next few months of the NRL.
Barnstorming prop Andrew Fifita has chosen to represent Tonga in the same period. Fifita was the Blues best in game one last year, which they won comfortably. He would have been close to a lock in selection for Origin as well, if he was available.
The news also comes as halves frontrunner Nathan Cleary is ruled out for at least 11 weeks with a knee injury. His partner in crime at the Panthers, James Maloney, put his hand up for selection over the weekend as he orchestrated a demolition of the Cowboys, thoroughly outplaying one of the Maroons halves options in Michael Morgan.
The Blues have a number of halves options this year, with Luke Keary sparking the Roosters in attack while Blake Green is adding some much needed calmness to the Warriors. There is still time for Mitchell Pearce to force his way in as well.
There is plenty of competition for other positions as well. Tom Trbojevic would appear to be a lock for either fullback or a wing position, with James Tedesco also firing. In the forwards Blues Origin legend Steve “Blocker” Roach has championed Jack de Belin. The Dragons prop is one of the best defenders in the game, and this year is showcasing a strong offload as well.
There are a number of other players currently doing everything they can to impress Fittler. Lock Jake Trbojevic is in fantastic form at Manly, as is hooker Api Koroisau. Veteran Origin wrecking ball David Klemmer is one of the few lights for the Bulldogs in the front row.
Maroons coach Kevin Walters has his own Origin selection dilemmas. The retirement of champion halves Jonathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk has left a big hole in his playmaking ranks. Last year it looked like Cameron Munster and Michael Morgan would be the replacements, however neither has been particularly impressive this season. The refereeing crackdown has hit both the Storm and Cowboys hard, which is affecting their games.
The standout Queensland halves at the moment are Daly Cherry-Evans and Ben Hunt, but it is unlikely that they would fit into the same team. Both are running halves, excellent at breaking through defensive lines and coming up with big plays. They each seem to play best with a calming influence partnering them, however.