28/05/2024

NSW Blues dominating the first two games of the series in 2021. (Image: NSW Rugby League Website)

The first game of the State of Origin series squads have been announced. Here is the truth about the selection of these squads.

The first game of the State of Origin series squads have been selected and there have been several reactions about certain players not being selected for the June 8 match in Sydney.

Players such as Josh Addo-Carr, Angus Crichton and Jake Trbojevic were not selected for game one for New South Wales.

Meanwhile, Queensland did not select players such as David Fifita, Corey Oates and Reece Walsh for game one.

There is a multitude of factors as to why these players were not selected. Here are the reasons why.

NSW Blues

Josh Addo-Carr (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs)

Did Josh Addo-Carr deserve to be in Origin Game 1? (Image: Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs Website)

In his first 11 of 12 games played for the club, Josh Addo-Carr has only managed to score six tries.

The last time we have seen him not score as often was back in 2017 in his first full year in Melbourne, where in the same March to May span, scored eight tries.

Addo-Carr has added a running game, he is currently 15th in dummy-half runs with 28 in total. This places him as one of the two players outside the dummy half position ranked in the top 20.

Based on his normal season structure, we should see him pick things up in the second half of the season. Besides not performing well to start the season, here are other reasons why he most likely was not selected.

First of all, his height is an issue, only being 183 centimetres tall. This would make him outmatched by selected wingers for Queensland Selwyn Cobbo (190 centimetres) and Xavier Coates (194 centimetres tall).

The kicking game is the most important aspect of the game. Contests of the high kicks need their edge players to have the best chance of winning those battles.

Daniel Tupou, who was selected as 196 centimetres tall, has one of the best yardage gain play styles for his position. In 11 games, Tupou is averaging 166 running metres per game and 61.9 post-contact metres per game.

Brian To’o, although smaller than Addo-Carr, is one of the strongest wingers we have ever seen for his size. Last year, To’o in 21 games led the league in post-contact metres, averaging 89.9 per game. In his first six games this season, he is averaging 69.7 per game. Meanwhile, Addo-Carr in 12 games is only averaging 36.3 per game.

Regardless of consistency and having more experience, Addo-Carr’s game depends on the plan from the halves combination. Addo-Carr’s game when breaking down his game skill-wise compared to his peers at his position lacks versatility and possibilities.

Angus Crichton (Sydney Roosters)

Angus Crichton’s underwhelming start to the season (Image: Sydney Roosters Website)

Angus Crichton has started the season slowly. This is usually in relationship with how the club started as well. With Crichton’s performance this season, stats do not help tell the story of why Crichton has not started well.

The Roosters in their offence use Crichton in non-ball-playing aspects of the game. At times, he has been starting on the bench with Nat Butcher taking his starting spot.

Players such as Cameron Murray have shown the ability to ball play and control the middle. Ryan Matterson, who has become one of the best bench players in the game, plays different styles with and without the ball.

Crichton has not stood out in comparison to his peers.

Jake Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles)

Jake Trbojevic struggling to find a spot in the Blues jersey this year. (Image: Manly Sea Eagles Website)

Manly’s offence has struggled this year compared to its success in 2021. Jake Trbojevic plays the lock position very different from where the game has moved towards in the past few seasons.

Trbojevic is a front-rower playing lock, who can be a hard runner at the line. He also plays with a lot of aggression in his game.

The best of Trbojevic’s ability is when he’s able to ball play in the middle, which can create open space in play. However, we see only glimpses of this version of the 28-year-old.

However, New South Wales already has a ball player in Isaah Yeo. In Origin and for Penrith, Yeo takes pressure away from his halves combination of Jarome Luai and Nathan Cleary.

Brad Fittler has selected his squad this time with a strategy in mind. He wants a continuing and evolving system for years to come.

It would not be appropriate for Jake Trbojevic to be selected due to his slow start to the season and his limited skillset in a position that has evolved rapidly.

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Queensland Maroons

David Fifita (Gold Coast Titans)

Is David Fifita’s fit in Queensland compatible with Slater’s system? (Image: Gold Coast Titans Website)

A back-rower with David Fifita’s ability, talent, and offensive upside should be one of the best players in the game currently.

That is not the reality of his situation at the Titans. Coach Justin Holbrook starting him on the bench for most of the last year’s season was a red flag already.

Since David Fifita joined the Titans, they’ve struggled much more than they’ve had success. The 22-year-old has not produced enough if we are looking at his deal with the club.

There have been games where Gold Coast start well, then all of a sudden, the game goes away completely. Although Queensland is picking players with a strong running game, Fifita’s game is easy to stop.

Fifita is at his best when he is running with the ball from the dummy-half spot, scoring tries more effectively. His numbers across the board have declined in comparison to how he started the season last year.

Playing in a rebuilding team is part of the issue for the second rower’s game. If Fifita was able to develop a Josh Schuster feel to his game, he would be able to take his game to the next level, and the offensive possibilities would be endless.

Corey Oates (Brisbane Broncos)

Corey Oates finding form in new-look Brisbane Broncos (Image: NRL.com)

This season, Corey Oates has returned to his best form after being in and out of the Broncos lineup last year. Oates fits the current mould of the winger archetype and has put everyone on notice with his impressive play.

With the running game being Queensland’s identity, Corey Oates doesn’t have the speed and acceleration he once had. His teammate Selwyn Cobbo has a stronger running game and has the speed and acceleration that wingers and fastbacks traditionally have.

Since his knee injury in 2020, Oates has not looked the same in terms of speed and acceleration.

Reece Walsh (New Zealand Warriors)

Reece Walsh finding his footing in the NRL (Image: New Zealand Warriors Website)

Statistically, Reece Walsh has started the season better than Kalyn Ponga. Walsh has more try and line-break assists, run metres per game and a stronger kicking game than the Knights fullback.

Although Reece Walsh and the Warriors have not started well, Ponga with the Knights has impacted more games than Reece, who has struggled to be that x-factor for his team in games where they need him the most.

Ponga fits Queensland’s system better with his running and playmaking ability, something that we have seen glimpses of from Walsh’s career so far.

Reece Walsh is in the second year of his career. The 19-year-old has a lot of promise to be special in the league for a long time.

Walsh almost debuted for the Maroons last year, so it is not out of the question if he will debut for them.

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