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Injuries are causing headaches for every team but the State of Origin teams are starting to take shape for the series opener on June 8 at Accor Stadium.
Time is running out for potential candidates to pitch their case to the teams that will be announced at the end of the month after Round 12.
Each state will select a 24-man squad with NSW looking to claim the Shield for the fourth time in five years, a feat they have only achieved once before during their peak period from 1992 to 1996 which n was only interrupted by the miracle of Paul Vautin. sweep the team of ’95.
The Maroons have new coach Billy Slater at the helm after Paul Green’s only year in charge resulted in a 50-6, 26-0 thrashing in the first two games before saving face with a 20- 18 in Game 3 of the only series to be played all on Queensland soil.
Cameron Murray (shoulder), Latrell Mitchell (hamstring) and Ryan Papenhuyzen (knee and hamstring) headline the unavailable Blues list for Origin I while second rowers Jaydn Su’A (ankle) and David Fifita (knee) won’t line up. for the Maroons.
“Keaon Koloamatangi has been in our camps and we also have Tariq Sims, Tyson Frizell, Angus Crichton and Liam Martin who have played before,” Fittler said Wednesday.
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“It’s such an important position because there’s so much pressure on these people, especially in defence. Over the last four or five years, we’ve always had very good depth.
Slater revealed he was considering Brisbane’s Patrick Carrigan, Tom Flegler and Keenan Palasia, Cowboys young players Jeremiah Nanai and Titans second rower Beau Fermor Heilum Luki as options to bolster his pack.
Here’s how the picks for each team follow the path leading to Origin I, but of course a lot can happen between now and game day.
New South Wales
Outer backs: James Tedesco will lead the Blues as long as he is available with Josh Addo-Carr and Brian To’o returning to the wings with Tom Trbojevic in the middle. The other center spot is up for grabs due to Mitchell’s hamstring surgery with Stephen Crichton, Siosifa Talakai, Kotoni Staggs, Campbell Graham and Matt Burton among the options. Fittler has indicated Staggs is the favorite at this point.
Halves: Barring injury or suspension, Penrith duo Nathan Cleary and Jarome Luai will be selected. Cody Walker and Mitch Moses are the two players who would step in if needed.
Pack: Junior Paulo and Payne Haas are fit and almost certain to be the starting stalwarts with Damien Cook at hooker for his 13th consecutive origin since his 2018 debut. Murray and Sims were the second rowers last year and Fittler is looking forward to see Sims back on his team. In form, Martin should be the first striker chosen ahead of Frizell, Crichton, Sims and Koloamatangi. Panthers co-captain Isaah Yeo will be the lock.
Bench: Fittler is a big fan of Jake Trbojevic, who played 13 consecutive origins before a hip injury ruled him out of the final two games of 2021, and he can cover or lock out. Veterans like Frizell and Crichton, who can switch between middle and edge, are also likely to get the nod while Cronulla’s Dale Finucane is not ruled out. Knights prop Daniel Saifiti’s form has declined this season and he’s struggled to hold onto his place.
The utility berth was probably meant to go to Papenhuyzen, but his absence opens the door for Burton, Raiders star Jack Wighton or Sharks halfback Nicho Hynes.
Fittler will also bring other uncapped Emerging Blues to the extended squad with forward Manly Haumole Olakau’atu, Wests Tigers mainstay Stefano Utoikamanu and Roosters lock Victor Radley in the mix.
Probable team of the Blues
- James Tedesco (c)
- Josh Addo Carr
- Tom Trbojevic
- Kotoni Staggs
- Brian To’o
- Jarome Luai
- Nathan Clear
- Paolo junior
- Damian Cook
- Payne Haas
- Liam Martin
- Tariq Sims
- isaah yeo
- Jack Wighton
- Jake Trbojevic
- Angus Crichton
- Tyson Frizell
Reservations: Nicho Hynes, Matt Burton, Keaon Koloamatangi, Dale Finucane, Haumole Olakau’atu, Stefano Utoikamanu, Victor Radley.
Outer backs: Kalyn Ponga has racked up enough credits at Origin level to retain the No.1 shirt despite the club’s modest form. On the wings, Xavier Coates and Valentine Holmes are likely starters while Dane Gagai will be a center and Cowboys speedster Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow his likely partner. Warriors young gun Reece Walsh, North Queensland winger Murray Taulagi and Broncos speedster Selwyn Cobbo are unlikely to make the starting squad but are expected to be called up to the extended squad.
Halves: The established combination of Cameron Munster and captain Daly Cherry-Evans will make the decisions with Dragons veteran Ben Hunt capable of filling either role if injured.
Pack: Josh Papalii will be one of the first rowers, but Christian Welch’s season-ending Achilles tear leaves a vacancy. Jai Arrow was used as a prop in the original level and could be an option with Tino Fa’asuamaleaui in lockdown or vice versa. Kaufusi has been a fixture in the second row in 12 consecutive matches since his Origin rookie streak four years ago and with Fifita and Su’A out, Kurt Capewell is a certainty by his side. Harry Grant will be the hooker.
Bench: Hunt is guaranteed to get the utility spot, leaving three forward roles on the bench. Moeaki Fotuaika did well across four origins, which means the final two spots will come down to a race between Carrigan, Flegler, Nanai, Dragons mainstay Francis Molo, Luki, Fermor and Palasia.
Along with Walsh, Taulagi and Cobbo, Gold Coast’s AJ Brimson, Cowboys trio Reuben Cotter, Coen Hess and Kyle Feldt, and Eels hooker Reed Mahoney will also be vying for the expanded squad.
Probable Maroons team
1. Kalyn Ponga
2. Valentine Holmes
3. Dane Gagai
4. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
5. Xavier Coates
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans (c)
8. Josh Papalii
9. Harry Grant
10. Jai Arrow
11. Felise Kaufusi
12. Kurt Capewell
13. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui
14. Ben Hunt
15. Moeaki Fotuaika
16. Francois Molo
17. Jeremy Nanai
Reservations: Reece Walsh, Selwyn Cobbo, AJ Brimson, Reed Mahoney, Patrick Carrigan, Reuben Cotter, Coen Hess.