The 2017 State of Origin series is just about upon us and, as always, mock teams are already starting to emerge of what Laurie Daley’s line-up could look like for Origin I.
I’ve decided to put my hat in the ring and pick my best 17 players that should be selected for next Wednesday’s opener at Suncorp Stadium.
While you may notice a few big names missing, my team is made up of experienced guys who have done the job before as well players that are in such good form, that I can’t possibly leave them out.
1. Jarryd Hayne
I wanted to pick Hayne at five-eighth but Mitchell Pearce’s form has been too good to resist, so I’ve gone with Hayne at fullback because I want him to have the ball as much as possible.
2. Brett Morris
With the recent injury to Tom Trbojevic, who would’ve been a lock at wing, I’ve got to go with experience and there’s no one more professional on the big stage than Brett Morris.
3. BJ Leilua
We’ve got to start picking players Queensland don’t want to come up against and Leilua will give the Maroons’ backs plenty of nightmares.
4. Josh Dugan
Josh’s a big game player and played well in the Australian side recently. He combines really well with Blake Ferguson.
5. Blake Ferguson
While Blake’s form has been mixed with the Roosters this season, he always shows up on the big occasions and will do so again alongside his old friend and former club teammate in Dugan.
6. James Maloney
James has been there before and done it all. He now has a second premiership under his belt and this has to be the year he produces if the Blues are going to win.
7. Mitchell Pearce
Everyone always bags Mitch’s Origin record but you have to pick him on form. He’s the best halfback NSW have got at the moment and he’s really matured over the last 18 months.
8. Aaron Woods
Big Woodsy would’ve played for Australia recently had he not been injured. I’m looking forward to seeing how he returns from injury this weekend.
9. Peter Wallace
Wal’s played Origin before and understands the game. He’s got great game management and won’t overplay his hand like some NSW hookers have in the past.
10. Shannon Boyd
Shannon has been solid for Canberra and, whilst they haven’t been winning games, his statistics haven’t changed too much and he continues to go forward.
11. Boyd Cordner
Boyd’s in career-best form for the Roosters on that left-hand edge and will do well captaining the Blues through a new era.
12. Tyson Frizell
Tyson is having an outstanding season for the Dragons and performed well on the Origin stage last year.
13. Trent Merrin
Mez played for the Kangaroos recently and didn’t disappoint. He’ll give the forwards a real push up front.
14. Wade Graham
Wade probably should be in the starting side but with Merrin at lock, he offers some spark off the bench and has playmaking ability.
15. Andrew Fifita
Fifita is a Kangaroos and premiership player, and will give NSW that real edge off the bench when he’s injected.
16. Jake Trbojevic
This kid is one of Manly’s best every week and I think he’ll do a great job for NSW, just like he did for the Kangaroos a few weeks back.
17. Paul Vaughan
Paul’s form has put the Dragons on the map this season and it’s hard not to give him a Blues jumper for that. He’s just about been the buy of the year 10 rounds in. Deserves his shot.