As game two will be on our screens tomorrow, I decided to take a look at some of the players eligible for the big state clash but aren’t chosen to represent their respective state.
I’m sure that in a rugby league player’s career, he wants to accomplish a few things:
1) Be in the first 13 of his club on the first-grade team;
2) Win a premiership with his club;
3) Represent his chosen country in national tests, and
4) Represent his state in the Origin series.
As big as the first three are, I’m sure four is a mainstay in their minds; State of Origin has become one of the biggest sporting events in Australia (if not, the biggest!) People who don’t even like rugby league sit down to watch it, for crying out loud. Some players are lucky enough to be Origin mainstays and successfully make the team; others aren’t so lucky, despite having a lot of talent.
Writing from both sides (despite being a Queensland supporter myself… #GoMaroons), I’ve decided to highlight just a few of the names that should’ve been selected this year, but unfortunately haven’t been. The Queensland Maroons will go first, of course.
Ben Hannant from the North Queensland Cowboys
The Polar Bear himself has had previous Origin experience, having played a total of 12 games for Queensland from 2008 to 2012. After that, he just hadn’t been selected despite being one of the most reliable forwards in the game today. If you were to compare his form to the likes of current Queensland props Matt Scott and Nate Myles, he wouldn’t make the first 13, but Hannant is definitely a contender for the bench; he always runs hard with the ball and packs a mighty punch when he makes a straight run with it. It’s disappointing to see Hannant’s name not even thrown around when Mal is deciding his forward pack; he definitely deserves it.
Ben Hunt from the Brisbane Broncos
While Daly Cherry-Evans is undoubtedly a great player, his 2015 season so far is nothing compared to that of the Broncos’ deadly halfback. With Cronk out due to injury, I was sure that Hunt would be a shoe in (I mean, who could forget dat try doe that he helped orchestrate for Lachlan Maranta?!) but alas, I was disappointed when DCE was named ahead of him, and Hunt wasn’t even put on the bench. Hunt is definitely a contender for Dally M finalist this year, and it’s easy to see why; he keeps on getting better and better and it’s about time he is rewarded by being allowed to represent his state.
James Segeyaro from the Penrith Panthers
It pained me to choose another hooker over my Andrew McCullough, but even a Broncos fan like myself cannot deny the incredible skill of the Panther nicknamed Chicko. The Papua New Guinea native migrated to Cairns when he was young and played junior footy with the Cairns rugby league club, therefore qualifying him to represent Queensland proudly. It’s hard to overlook the year that Chicko has had, and let’s not forget to mention that he was 2014’s Dally M Hooker of the Year. Like Hunt, Segeyaro hasn’t had a shot at a Maroon jersey yet, and I think it’s his time.
Brenton Lawrence from the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles
Despite Manly being very low on my favourite teams, one of the few reasons why I can’t help but respect them is the big, beefy forward named Brenton Lawrence. One thing I look for in a forward – especially a prop – is their “intimidation factor”; if they were to run at me, would I be scared and simply relinquish the ball and surrender, or would I charge at them fearlessly? (#FearlessNikki) If the former feeling is created, then I think that forward will do great things in their career. That is what I think Lawrence is capable of, plus more; he’s a machine when given the ball on the right play, and is criminally underrated in my sweet and humble opinion. With such a wide selection of forwards for the Maroon squad, it’s sad to see Lawrence overlooked time and time again.
New South Wales Blues
Adam Reynolds from the South Sydney Rabbitohs
I’m just gonna say it; Reynolds is a better halfback than Hodkinson and Pearce. I would go so far to say that Reynolds is a bigger key to the Bunnies success than Inglis is. His fancy footwork and superb kicking skills make him a great player, but his field awareness and improvisational playmaking skills is what makes him a great halfback. He’s had a string of misfortune when it comes to injuries this year (dat tackle, anyone?) so it’s fair enough why he wasn’t selected for the first two games, but come game three, I think Laurie take the plunge and put Reynolds on his first team.
Jarrod Croker from the Canberra Raiders
I’m not even just including him because he’s from Goulburn; this guy has some serious talent! Like I believe Reynolds is for South Sydney, I strongly think that Croker is the reason why the Raiders have been so successful this season. It’s great that the country capital club has locked him in for so long because they’d be foolish to let him saunter off to another club (or backflip on the deal… COUGH COUGH Cherry). Not only is he their goalkicker – and a bloody good one at that – but he is the Raiders captain and has led the green team to several convincing victories after having a
shit lacklustre season last year. Croker has had no previous Origin experience but I’m sure, when used correctly, he’ll become a great asset for the Blues. And he’s better than some of the backs on the Blues team at the moment, let’s be honest.
Aidan Sezer from the Gold Coast Titans
I have such high expectations for this man, and he’s fulfilled all of them; he’s an excellent playmaker for his team and can remain calm even in very tense situations, which I think is a must for a half. Plus, you don’t see him doing any crazy shit off field to detract from his skill either. When I heard that the Broncos were in need of a five-eighth, I was spewin’ that we didn’t make a big play for Aidan Sezer; combine his skills with that of Ben Hunt, and our halves would’ve been unstoppable! (No shade to Milford). His kicking game is on point and he could give Adam Reynolds a run for his money on that aspect, but as for now, I think his time to be called up to Origin is coming soon.
Tariq Sims from the Newcastle Knights
As much as it’ll pain me to see one of my favourite players on the Blues side of Origin, I think it’s about damn time that Tariq Sims is called up to play for New South Wales, and that’s not even just because he’s funny either. To me, he is one of the most underrated forwards in the league; a reliable stronghold of a man, he is as good at running the ball as he is defending his try line. Combine that with his impressive ball handling skills and his, well, “intimidation factor” and you have yourself a very good forward. Like, no offence, but I don’t think Beau Scott or Ryan Hoffman are better than him, so he could slot in well on the second-row. Plus, it’s clear that rugby league runs in his blood.
Here’s hoping to a Maroons win tomorrow, because I don’t think I can sit through a series deciding game three. My anxiety game too strong for that.
– by Noah La’ulu