Almanac Rugby League – State of Origin selection time (give us your thoughts)



We’re just four weeks away from Origin I, so it’s time to put on the selector’s hat to see what combinations we can come up with for the Maroons and the Blues. In what has been, to date, a fairly underwhelming rugby league season (unless you’re a Dragons supporter), it’s hard to nominate either side with any real confidence – but for very different reasons.


After the rugby league World Cup at the end of 2017, it seemed that the NSW pack would be an embarrassment of riches. Try to fit Aaron Woods, David Klemmer, Andrew Fifita, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Jordan McLean, Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson, Tyson Frizell, Trent Merrin, Jake Trbojevic and Wade Graham into five starting spots and three on the bench. Fifita, McLean, Graham and Merrin have made it easier through either defection or injury but what about the claims of St George’s Paul Vaughan, Jack de Belin and Tariq Sims or Souths’ Angus Crichton? Is James Tamou off the radar? Shannon Boyd? And for a No. 9? Cameron McInnes, Apisai Koroisau, Nathan Peats, Damien Cook, or the old warrior Peter Wallace?


In the backs, there’s Tom Trbojevic, James Tedesco, Matt Moylan, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Josh Mansour, Josh Addo-Carr, James Roberts, Jack Bird, James Maloney and Nathan Cleary to fit into seven starting spots and one on the bench. And that’s without the claims of Tyrone Peachey, Jarrod Croker, Will Hopoate, Dylan Walker, Latrell Mitchell, Bevan French, Adam Reynolds, Euan Aitkin, Matthew Dufty, Luke Keary, Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks.


You could pick two teams! I can hear the Sydney press mob screeching, “This is the year!”


Just for fun, let’s go with: 1. Tedesco 2. Addo-Carr 3. Dugan 4. Aitkin 5. Trbojevic T 6. Maloney 7. Cleary 8. Klemmer 9. Koroisau 10. Campbell-Gillard 11. Cordner (c) 12. Jackson 13. Frizell 14. Moylan 15. Trbojevic J 16. Graham 17. de Belin. A mix of experience and youth, a chance to break from the lack of success in recent times. A team of goers compared to many Blues outfits of the past decade which featured a few too many goners! Don’t worry, I think Woods will be chosen to start and Klemmer will come off the bench instead of de Belin – a pity because de Belin is the future.


By comparison, the Maroons are looking a bit sad as the Broncos, Cowboys and Titans have yet to show us too much this year. Even the unofficial fourth Queensland team, Melbourne Storm, has not been totally convincing. Retirements, injuries and lack of form will give coach Kevin Walters a bit of a headache. The Maroon tradition of selection loyalty will be tested but surely the lessons of last year’s Game I mistakes will be prominent when Kevvie and co sit down to choose their team. We’ll go straight to a possible line-up:


1. Billy Slater 2. Valentine Holmes 3. Will Chambers 4. Greg Inglis 5. Dane Gagai 6. Cameron Munster 7. Ben Hunt 8. Dylan Napa 9. Cameron Smith (c) 10. Jarrod Wallace 11. Gavin Cooper 12. Felise Kaufusi  13. Jai Arrow 14. Michael Morgan 15. Corey Oates  16. Josh Papalii 17. Tim Glasby. Again, don’t worry, Matt Scott will get a run, possibly at the expense of Napa which may see the relegation of Glasby.


Others who might get a look in include Anthony Milford, Kalyn Ponga, Aiden Guerra, Darius Boyd and Coen Hess. I’m assuming that Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire will be unavailable. Thin pickings by comparison with NSW’s abundance. But for those of us up North, it just makes sticking it to the Blues all that much more enjoyable.


What do you think?


Ian Hauser is one of the Almanac’s online editors. He shares a sporting record that will never be eclipsed: a club record 10th wicket partnership of 62 with Craig Hartmann for the long defunct Unley Lutherans in the Adelaide Churches Association A Grade in 1973. These days he plays with words for a hobby. You can check out his editing services via the link above.


About Ian Hauser

A relaxed, Noosa-based retiree with a (very) modest sporting CV. A Queenslander through and through, especially when it comes to cricket and rugby league. I enjoy travel, good coffee and cake, reading, and have been known to appreciate a glass or three of wine. As well as being one of Footy Almanac's online editors, I moonlight as an editor for hire - check me out at


  1. Liam Hauser says

    There are certainly plenty of worthy contenders, especially for NSW. Getting the right combinations and calibre of player is always tricky in any case.
    Cleary’s injury might have him under a cloud for game one, so it might be a case of blooding Keary or Brooks in the halves. After the fallout from last year’s series decider, Dugan might be on the outer, or will he be given another chance? I definitely think Addo-Carr deserves a chance. Plenty of Dragons could be introduced to Origin: Aitken, Vaughan, de Belin, McInnes. It’ll be interesting to see how many of them are used. Peats didn’t really do anything wrong last year, so the selectors could pick him again or try McInnes or even Cook. I’d pick one of those three ahead of Koroisau. After last year’s series, I don’t think NSW should pick Hayne, Dugan, Pearce or Woods, although Pearce obviously isn’t available this year.
    I agree with most of the selections mentioned in Ian’s Queensland team, although I think Matt Scott deserves to be there on the basis of experience. Glasby would probably be the unlucky omission for game one. I think Boyd’s Origin days should be over, and I don’t think Milford should be picked either. Ponga should get his chance sooner or later, but I don’t know if it should be this year. Hess would be a bit unlucky to be excluded after making his mark last year, but the Cowboys haven’t made much of an impression yet this year. Kaufusi and Arrow definitely deserve to be there.

  2. Roberts for NSW?

    No C. Smith. Matt O’Hanlon will e spruiking Rocky Brothers boy Jake Granville – and so will I. (Often take my lead from the big fella).

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