The Roosters, despite a poor start to the season and, arguably, poorer form from at least two of the selections, will send three players to the Origin arena next week.
Boyd Cordner, who has been sensational since returning from a pectoral injury which kept him out of the first seven games of the season, has been named in the 19-man Blues squad. In four games back he’s averaging 135 metres a game off 16.25 runs a match (which leads the club) along with three tackle busts, nearly a line break a match and, more importantly, hard line-running which the Roosters have lacked all year.
He had a particularly good game in a tough loss versus the Dogs with 17 runs, 158 metres, an offload, three tackle busts, a line break, a line break assist and two try assists in what was his 100th game for the club. He deserves his spot after an electric return and displaying what can arguably described as his career-best form.
The other two? Well, given the form of their club and individual form, their selections are slightly puzzling — albeit having been rumoured all season.
Blake Ferguson will start on the wing for NSW after making his debut for Australia a few weeks back. His form, while it has improved of late, is certainly down on last year and his defence has been mediocre at best in a right-side defensive edge that has been nothing short of woeful all year. He’s averaging 84.45 metres a match off 11.18 runs (7.55 metres a run, ahead of just seven Roosters).
More importantly, he’s averaging 3.55 missed tackles a game — “first” at the club — and completing just 79 per cent of his attempts, which is fourth-worst at the club (ahead of just SKD, Latrell Mitchell and Daniel Tupou).
Aidan Guerra, meanwhile, has been selected to start in the back row for Queensland according to the leaked team news from the Courier-Mail, a selection that some Roosters fans who’ve watched him week in and week out would find just as puzzling. Aside from a three-game stretch prior to his selection for Australia a while back, Guerra has been down on form and his past two weeks have been well below what his abilities suggest he’s capable of.
Last week he ran it just six times for a measly 36 metres, and this week his defence was woeful — though admittedly he was playing out of position in the centres.
He’s been shifted across the park from lock to the back-row to five-eighth and last week to the backs, and on the year he’s been averaging 114 metres off 15 runs a game (7.61 metres a run, ahead of just Mitch Frei in the forwards if you don’t count Ryan Matterson) with 2.2 tackle busts and 2.8 missed tackles a match (while making 37.2), second worst at the club behind just Ferguson. He’s also averaging 1.1 errors a match, behind just SKD and Latrell as the most error-prone at the club.
However, he has never failed to perform at Origin level, and it’s important to note Ferguson did have a very good game in his lone Origin selection back in 2013 before off-field indiscretions led to his axing prior to Game 2.
NSW Squad for Game 1
|Name||NRL Club||D.O.B||Junior Club||Origin App|
|Greg Bird||Gold Coast Titans||10/2/1984||West Maitland Red Dogs/ Maitland Pumpkin Pickers||16|
|Boyd Cordner||Sydney Roosters||9/6/1992||Old Bar Pirates||5|
|Josh Dugan||St George Illawarra Dragons||10/5/1990||South Tuggeranong Knights/ Valley Dragons||8|
|Robbie Farah||Wests Tigers||23/1/1984||Enfield Federals/ Leichhardt Wanderers||13|
|Blake Ferguson||Sydney Roosters||20/3/1990||Wellington Cowboys/ Earlwood Saints||1|
|Andrew Fifita||Cronulla Sharks||28/6/1989||Griffith Waratahs/ St Patricks Blacktown||4|
|Tyson Frizell||St George Illawarra Dragons||9/10/1991||Corrimal Cougars||Nil|
|Paul Gallen (c)||Cronulla Sharks||14/8/1981||Wentworthville Magpies||21|
|Josh Jackson||Canterbury Bulldogs||8/1/1991||Gulgong Terriers/ Mudgee Dragons||3|
|Michael Jennings||Parramatta Eels||20/4/1988||St Marys/ West City Tigers||15|
|David Klemmer||Canterbury Bulldogs||22/12/1993||All Saints Toongabbie||3|
|James Maloney||Cronulla Sharks||15/6/1986||St Edwards Gosford||3|
|Josh Mansour||Penrith Panthers||17/6/1990||St Johns Eagles/ Kingsgrove Colts||Nil|
|Josh Morris||Canterbury Bulldogs||23/8/1986||Kiama Knights||11|
|Matt Moylan||Penrith Panthers||16/6/1991||St Patricks Blacktown/ St Clair Comets||Nil|
|Adam Reynolds||South Sydney Rabbitohs||10/7/1990||Alexandria Rovers/ Kensington United||Nil|
|James Tamou||North Queensland Cowboys||13/12/1988||Paddington Tigers/ Levin Knights||11|
|Dylan Walker||Manly Sea Eagles||27/9/1994||Mascot Jets||Nil|
|Aaron Woods||Wests Tigers||13/3/1991||Leichhardt Juniors||8|
|Penrith Panthers||15/11/1994||St Marys||Nil|
Queensland Team for Game 1
(according to the Courier-Mail)
1. Darius Boyd, 2. Corey Oates, 3. Greg Inglis, 4. Justin O’Neill, 5. Dane Gagai, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Cameron Smith, 10. Nate Myles, 11. Aidan Guerra, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Corey Parker, 14. Michael Morgan, 15. Sam Thaiday, 16. Josh Papalii, 17. Josh McGuire.