Best NSW team for State of Origin: Game One
In BEHIND THE DESK this week BILL NORTH and MATTHEW ELKERTON nominate who they think would make the best 17 for Laurie Daley's Blues squad to tackle Queensland in Game One at Suncorp Stadium on May 31.
Northy: Getting the right balance is key for NSW. I've named three debutants - James Roberts, Tom Trbojevic and, a bolter, Junior Paulo. I've resisted blooding too many newbies and recalled some old guns, despite less than compelling track records in the Blues jersey - see Mitchell Pearce, Jarryd Hayne, while retaining Robbie Farah and Michael Jennings despite plenty of objections to both selections in the mainstream. They key for NSW is the backrow. As always, it's the side's strength, but in Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson, Wade Graham, Tyson Frizell and now Jake Trbojevic, it's never looked better.
1. JAMES TEDESCO: Form fullback in the comp for past 12 months. Ready to own No.1 jersey.
2. JARRYD HAYNE: NSW's best when he left. Should be given a licence to inject influence at will.
3. MICHAEL JENNINGS: One of few Mr Reliables - Not to blame for the long term NSW rot.
4. JAMES ROBERTS: Lethal in open play, has stepped up to become the NRL's best centre in 2017.
5. BLAKE FERGUSON: Has done just enough to cling on to his spot ahead of bolter Anthony Don.
6. JAMES MALONEY: Premiership five-eighth to reunite with former Roosters teammate.
7. MITCHELL PEARCE: Hard not to pick on form despite previous failures and misdemeanours.
8. ANDREW FIFITA: Again, hard not to pick on form despite poor discipline on and off field.
9. ROBBIE FARAH: Proved fitness in sterling 80min effort last week. No one knocking door down.
10. DAVID KLEMMER: At just 23, has established himself as the Blues' No.1 enforcer.
11. BOYD CORDNER (c): Flavour of the month. NSW best in 2016 Game 1 before sitting out injured.
12. JOSH JACKSON: Brad Fittler Medal for NSW player of 2016 series. Solid form for the Dogs.
13. JAKE TRBOJEVIC: Has set consistent high standard at Manly to charge for Origin debut.
14. MATT MOYLAN: A utility a must for the make-up of this side, particularly to cover for Farah plus any injuries. NSW have the option of playing Moylan centrally or bringing onto the wing to allow for Hayne to play the utility role. Edged out the likes of Jack Bird, Tyrone Peachey and Dylan Walker for the No.14 jersey. A big cross through his name before last week's second half for the Panthers.
15. TYSON FRIZELL: Superb for the Dragons and proved his ability at this level in 2016.
16. WADE GRAHAM: See above for the Sharks. Solid workhorse, a Clarence Valley favourite.
17. JUNIOR PAULO: I know, no Paul Vaughan. But I'm a big fan of Paulo. I reckon he would provide great value for short spurts as an impact player.
18th man: Angus Crichton
Near misses: Anthony Don, Brett Morris, Paul Vaughan, James Tamou, Jack Bird.
Moose: I've opted for a major changing of the guard with several fresh faces to turn around the Blues' fortunes. Jarrod Croker, James Roberts, Anthony Don and Cody Walker all deserve a crack and earn a spot in my backline. Paul Vaughan, Nathan Peats, Jake Trbojevic and Jack De Belin all join a new look forward pack. I've gone for a youth policy with one eye firmly squared on the future. The average age of the side is 25 with debutant Don the outlier at 29 years of age.
1. JAMES TEDESCO: Tigers livewire fullback has been huge in a troubled side. Lock him in.
2. MATT MOYLAN: Has shown his ability to run the ball out of danger. Plenty of metres in him.
3. JARROD CROKER: Leading point-scorer. Deserves his chance in Origin. Sound defence.
4. JAMES ROBERTS: Uninjured Jimmy the Jet is an offensive weapon.
5. ANTHONY DON: Boog has been a winger possessed this year. Can make Origin magic.
6. CODY WALKER: The Rabbitohs pivot has the potential to be a game breaker. Plenty of skill.
7. MITCHELL PEARCE: Best half besides Cronk. Has the cool head to play foil to Walker's ingenuity.
8. PAUL VAUGHAN: Pick of the props. Makes strong metres each carry. Defensively sound.
9. NATHAN PEATS: Needs to perform for the Titans this weekend to lock down the spot.
10. DAVID KLEMMER: Aggressive. Mongrel. Powerful. What we need.
11. WADE GRAHAM: Plenty of heart. Tackles himself to death. Worthy.
12. BOYD CORDNER (C): A natural born leader. Could lock down captain's arm band for years.
13. TYSON FRIZELL: Plenty of ability. Drives through tackles. Needs to be a roaming lock.
14. JACK BIRD: Perfect utility player.
15. ANDREW FIFITA: Lots of grunt.
16. JAKE TRBOJEVIC: Young bull on a roll.
17. JACK DE BELIN: Has been huge this year.
18th man: Bevan French
Near misses: Jarryd Hayne, Josh Jackson, Shannon Boyd, James Maloney, Blake Ferguson.
* BEHIND THE DESK is featured in the The Daily Examiner's sports section every Friday.