New Blues coach Brad Fittler will most likely unveil a reasonably new-look team from last year’s State of Origin series. Some of the changes will be forced by injury, others by form. So who will stay, and who are the contenders to take the vacant spots?
James Tedesco is the incumbent, and is in reasonable form. His main competitor, Tom Trbojevic, is out of form at the moment and can fill in a number of other positions in the backline. Teddy looks safe to be the NSW Origin fullback.
Incumbents Blake Ferguson and Brett Morris will most likely both be replaced. Morris has ruled himself out of representative duties, and Ferguson is both in bad form and suffers at Origin time from his party-boy reputation. Josh Addo-Carr will take one spot, with the other seemingly up for grabs.
Jarryd Hayne has been both injured and out of form for most of this season, so he will be out. Josh Dugan is playing well, and always performs well at Origin level. However Dugan has the same reputational problems as Ferguson, and Latrell Mitchell and Euan Aitken are both playing fantastically. One of those two will take Hayne’s spot, and Dugan will count himself lucky if he sneaks past the other.
Incumbent halfback Mitchell Pearce is injured, which leaves his spot open. The other half, James Maloney, has been in imperious form this year and will be the first selected in the side if he stays fit. His Penrith halves partner, Nathan Cleary, is currently injured but will return before Origin and have a chance to prove himself. Otherwise either Blake Green or Cody Walker will partner Maloney.
Trbojevic did well both at centre and on the wing for Australia at the last world cup, so he could be a dark horse in these positions. Clint Gutherson from Parramatta is also a chance, and is another who can play almost anywhere in the backline. Stay tuned for my picks for the forwards tomorrow!