NRL Great Paul Galen will be appearing in Nine’s 100% FOOTY every Monday night during the NRL season, debating the most talked about rugby league topics, along with Phil Gould and James Bressi. Tune in tonight at 10:40 pm (AEST) after Bumper Round 11!
We’re less than a week away from figuring out who will pull the New South Wales jersey for a game in the State of Origin series, so I put on a thought cap and come up with the squad I would choose. Opening game at ANZ Stadium.
1. James Tedesco 2. Brian Toeo 3. Cotoni Stags 4. Stephen Crichton 5. Josh Ado-Car 6. Jerome Louie 7. Nathan Cleary 8. Reagan Campbell-Gillard 9. Damien Cook 10. Payne Haas 11. Liam Martin 12. Angus Crichton 13. Isaah Yeo Sessions: 14. Nico Hynes 15. Jr. Paolo 16. Jack Trobozevic 17. Cameron Murray.
Cotoni Stags, Stephen Crichton and Nico Hynes have three debutants, which is almost the limit you want. Especially for the first game of the series, because it is very important. We know that if you win a match you will often win the series.
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The current pairing of Tom Trobozevic and Lateral Mitchell is a completely new pairing at the center, forcing coach Brad Fitler due to injury.
Stags deserves his place, and I let him play on the right, he’s an out-and-out right center, I don’t think you’ll play him on the left.
I got Stephen Crichton on the left, I know he usually plays on the right for Penrith right now, but I think he was playing on the left back in his first year in the competition. I thought it was his best year to be honest, and the Stags was just the right center, it showed me that Crichton could play on both sides.
Freddie is known to be a fan of using club combinations where it makes sense, and Crichton has a partnership with Brian Too on the left, and a partnership with Jerome Louie and Nathan Cleary in the other half.
Having this combination with the guys you play with every week is not for everything, I believe you will choose the best players and they will get the job done, that’s why they are the best players.
But for a guy who will make his debut, look for whatever benefits you can get for the situation in which the Blues get themselves injured. It can only be one percent type thing, but at the state of origin level you can find any edge.
Ryan Papenhuisen’s injury means Nico Hynes is ranked 14th, just ahead of Jack Whitton. Whitton has found some good form in the last few weeks, and the battle between Hynes and Whitton could be a coin toss, especially if Canberra wins again against Paramatman this week.
However, I went for Highness because he was one of the buyers of the season, his performance against the Warriors a few weeks ago was a real stand-out. The added benefit is that he can cover any number of terms.
In fact, he can play in any position on the backline and he is big enough that he can play lock in one pinch.
It’s a big decision for the selectors, because Whitton has been there before, but I’m glad Heines took the place.
The good news for Freddie is that Cameron Murray looks set to return from injury much earlier than expected, and will return straight to the 17th until he returns unharmed this weekend.
The two blocks that came close but missed in the end were Daniel Saifiti and Tyson Frisel, and indeed they are still the victims of Newcastle’s most common form this season.
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Individually they didn’t show superiority, it might be a different story if they stand out for the Knights, but you can’t pick them based on what we saw in the first 11 rounds.
They’re almost a victim of the situation, they’re not necessarily playing badly, but when your team is going bad and you’re not stand-out, it’s hard to pick them up. If you look at the rest of the squad, they are either from a team that is doing well, or in the case of someone like Josh Ado-Car, they are on a side that is fighting.
Another one I considered for the Keon Kolomatangi bench in the South, but in the end only so many spots were found. But he is very close and can calculate after the series, especially if there is an injury.
I don’t know what game plan Freddie had in mind, but obviously losing Trobozevic, Mitchell and Papenhuজen means thinking a little new.
That would mean a change in team structure, but look, we’re talking elite players here, they should be able to handle it.
If you’re going to lose players of that caliber, it’s probably easier to lose them now than to be a week out of the opening match. Freddie had plenty of time to get his head around that they wouldn’t be there.
He will have different combinations in mind for a few weeks now, it is going to be a different looking team this year, just because of that injury, but it is part of the rugby league and parcel.
You have to deal with it and put it behind you, which I am sure they will.
It will be an interesting series, with some youngsters likely coming to the Queensland team, such as Selwyn Cobo and Reese Walsh.
New South Wales have won three of the last four series, but to be honest, the pace doesn’t carry too much from one series to another. Each year is very different due to the injuries of New South Wales and the possible debuts of some future stars for Queensland.
The origin of the state throws something special every year … 2022 will not be different.
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