Mitchell Pearce is all but certain to be named the Origin squad after not being selected for the City team this weekend.
He’s been made unavailable due to injury, but if his spot was on the line there are no doubts he would’ve played in this one, but instead his “main rival” Adam Reynolds will start against City this weekend.
And us here at the 26 Rounds office aren’t nervous about that in the slightest.
Reynolds doesn’t run it and isn’t in the same class defensively as the Roosters’ halfback — his miss against Gareth Widdop on the weekend is all the evidence that should be needed to silence those calling for his immediate inclusion.
In short: you need more than one superior skill to make it in Origin, and while MP7 hasn’t exactly set the world alight on that stage, he has more of a complete skill set than Reynolds — especially in defence.
James Maloney is the form five-eighth in the comp and will be given a shot to partner his Roosters teammate after being named for country. The BBQ is firming as favourite given his line-breaking affinity, growing combination at club level with MP7 and his goal-kicking ability.
Boyd Cordner has also been named for Country, and will start in the second row ahead of Tariq Sims, who until this year its been considered an inevitability that he’ll play Origin. If Cordner can keep his head from splitting open he might have a shot at nabbing a bench spot for the Blues.
Michael Jennings is a shoo-in for the left centre spot for the blues and has been named for City alongside in-form former Roosters junior Tom Symonds.
Glad we traded him out for Luke O’Donnell yet?
CITY: Jarryd Hayne, Nathan Merritt, Michael Jennings, Chris Lawrence, Jorge Taufua, Josh Reynolds, Adam Reynolds, Aaron Woods, Robbie Farah (capt), Tim Mannah, Tony Williams, Ryan Hoffman, Feleti Mateo. Interchange: Wade Graham, Andrew Fifita, Tom Symonds, Tim Grant.
COUNTRY: Michael Gordon, Akuila Uate, Jamal Idris, Jack Wighton, James McManus, James Maloney, Josh McCrone, Willie Mason, Mick Ennis, Aiden Tolman, Josh Jackson, Boyd Cordner, Trent Merrin. Interchange: Sam Williams, Tariq Sims, Ryan James, Alex McKinnon.