Well there’s only one weekend of footy left to play before both Queensland and New South Wales teams are announced and we’re off and running for State of Origin 2023.
I believe five Penrith Panthers will be selected in the NSW Blues top 17 with Dylan Edwards taking the 18th man spot.
Before I announce my predictions for the entire NSW side, I’ll run through the five Panthers players I believe will be selected and why.
There’s no doubt that Brian To’o will be named on one wing, his performances in Origin last year were strong and after a slow start for Penrith early this season, he has bounced back and started to clock up the metres with his strong carries from the back of the field. To’o is a certainty.
After an inspiring performance against the Roosters last week, Jarome Luai only has to hold his form against the Broncos on Thursday to keep his place at five-eighth. Only an injury or an absolute shocker would open the door for Nicho Hynes or Cody Walker to be picked ahead of him.
The selection of Nathan Cleary at halfback is a ‘no-brainer’. He’s the incumbent and his strong form this season will ensure that he’ll definitely be there for NSW. Enough said.
Meanwhile, Isaah Yeo picks himself at lock. He’s in excellent form and not only can he ball-play and tackle like a demon but he has added a kicking game (wink wink) to his bag of tricks as well.
The fifth Panthers player I believe will be selected is our ‘Hamstring Hero’ Liam Martin. Martin provides passion and aggression and is made for the cauldron that is Origin. If he can get through the game against the Broncos, Freddy will pick him.
Finally, I think Dylan Edwards will be one of the reserves that will train with the side and then make it as 18th man. He deserves to be there somewhere and will be.
My most controversial selection is leaving Stephen Crichton out in place of ‘Tommy Turbo’. Crichton has been in OK form but not playing to the standard he was last year when he was selected. I believe Turbo will be selected ahead of Critta, if Tom has a good game this weekend.
For the record my NSW Blues side is:
1. James Tedesco 2. Brian To’o 3. Campbell Graham 4. Latrell Mitchell 5. Tom Trbojevic 6. Jarome Luai 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Daniel Saifiti 9. Damien Cook 10. Payne Haas 11. Cameron Murray 12. Hudson Young 13. Isaah Yeo
14. Api Koroisau 15. Junior Paulo 16. Haumole Olakau’atu 17. Liam Martin.
18. Dylan Edwards
That’s my side for game one, what’s yours?
Peter Lang is an experienced sports writer, who has been covering rugby league for several decades.