Infotainment Factory: NSW super-team: new Blues vs '05 legends

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Wednesday, 10 July 2019

NSW super-team: new Blues vs '05 legends


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NSW just won consecutive State of Origin series for the first time since a 2003-05 treble, from a side headlined by Andrew Johns.

They're both wonderful Blues teams. For the hell of it, we've put them head-to-head to determined who we'd pick in a combined 17.

We've taken the NSW Origin III team of 2005 and put it against the Blues outfit that won this year's decider on Wednesday night. We made an exception for bench utility Craig Wing, who played Origin I and II in '05 but missed the decider.

In a couple of instances, we shuffled stars to the other side of the field to avoid any selection atrocities. Chances are, you'll still think that we committed some.

Let the debate begin. Here is our NSW super-team, with nine current Blues and eight legends. It's a narrow win for the class of 2019.

FULLBACK: Anthony Minichiello or James Tedesco

Winner: Tedesco.

Tedesco gives you déjà vu; he is shades of Minichiello, his Roosters mentor. Watching him run is like flicking the game to fast forward. He is an ever-present threat.

Tough call, but Tedesco is arguably the best player in rugby league right now. He was rewarded with the Wally Lewis Medal for absolutely playing out of his mind this Origin series.

Minichiello actually boasts a better strike rate for NSW: he scored eight tries in 11 Origins, against five in 10 for Tedesco. Maybe it’s recency bias but Tedesco was irresistible in Origin III, running 230 metres, making three line breaks and scoring the winning try in the final minute.

WING: Timana Tahu or Blake Ferguson, Matt King or Josh Addo-Carr

Winners: Tahu and Ferguson.

We’re going to cheat a little here and take both right wingers. Tahu and Ferguson is a monster wing pairing.

Tahu scored eight tries from 12 Origins, while Ferguson amazingly has none from nine games; but his value comes from being a pseudo prop to start sets. King scored six tries from nine Origins, while Addo-Carr has been brilliant in scoring four from six games.

CENTRE: Mark Gasnier or Tom Trbojevic, Matt Cooper or Jack Wighton

Winners: Gasnier and Trbojevic.

So shoot us – we’re taking both right-sided players again, because it would be criminal to leave either Gasnier of Trbojevic out. With Trbojevic slotting in from fullback anyway, you could happily throw him at left centre and leave Gasnier in his favoured spot on the right.

Gasnier-Trbojevic: that’s enough to scare the daylights out of any Queenslander.

Gasnier scored four tries from 12 Origins; his footwork in attack was breathtaking, his defence rock solid. Trbojevic’s freakish athleticism – essentially playing as a second fullback in attack – has netted him five tries in as many games. ‘Turbo’ has an 80 per cent win rate in Origin thus far.

Cooper scored three tries from 13 Origins and was a defensive beast, while Wighton was superb after replacing Latrell Mitchell at left centre for this series.

FIVE-EIGHTH: Braith Anasta or James Maloney

Winner: Maloney.

As we discussed here, Jimmy Maloney is simply a winner. He has been the key playmaker in NSW’s first consecutive series wins since Anasta partnered Andrew Johns in 2005.

Anasta was a far better defender, but Maloney’s brilliance has more than made up for his shortcomings.

HALFBACK: Andrew Johns or Mitchell Pearce

Winner: Johns.

Watching Pearce finally win an Origin series last night was wonderful, but this is no contest. Johns’ performance in Origin 2005 remains one of the greatest in rugby league history and the Eighth Immortal is the first man picked in this side.

HOOKER: Danny Buderus or Damien Cook

Winner: Buderus.

This is a harder call than logic would dictate; Buderus is an all-time great and the captain of that iconic 2005 series win. Yet ‘Bedsy’ couldn’t have scored that explosive individual try that Cook produced for the Blues in Origin III.

We’re giving the heart-and-soul veteran the nod after a record 21 consecutive games of distinguished service, courageously delivered despite his excruciating long-term injuries.

But Cook … what a player. His sensational combination with Tedesco has been the highlight of these back-to-back NSW series wins.

FRONT-ROW: Luke Bailey, Daniel Saifiti, Jason Ryles, David Klemmer

Winners: Bailey and Klemmer.

Luke Bailey would have been equally at home in the current era of footy. He was an absolute work horse on both sides of the ball.

Saifiti didn’t put a foot wrong after his surprise mid-series call-up, but the ‘Bull’ rarely played a bad game in 15 NSW appearances.

Ryles was a somewhat maligned player; a Dragons star who was brilliant one day and a lightning rod for criticism the next. Klemmer is a raging beast.

The Knights star had an intriguing game last night. It lacked the brutal impact of his Origin I performance and didn’t seem super-impressive, yet he still belted out 125 run metres; a close second to outstanding NSW captain Boyd Cordner as the Blues’ most productive forward.

Klemmer has already played 14 Origins and is en route to becoming an all-time great.

SECOND-ROW: Nathan Hindmarsh, Boyd Cordner, Craig Fitzgibbon, Tyson Frizell

Winners: Hindmarsh and Cordner.

‘Hindy’ once made so many tackles at the start of an Origin game that he went to the sideline to throw up. Cordner has been Captain Fantastic for NSW, playing injured and performing with distinction. It was an absolute captain’s knock in Origin III.

We've picked the second-rowers without choosing precise field positions etc; all four are versatile players.

Hindmarsh played 17 games for the Blues, while Cordner already has 15. Fitzgibbon and Frizell have both played 11; and Fitzgibbon shared this series win as NSW’s defensive coach.

LOCK: Ben Kennedy or Jake Trbojevic

Winner: Trbojevic.

Tough call. Kennedy was a wrecking ball, but Trbojevic is the complete package. He was man of the match in Origin II, offers a supreme skill-set on top of a tireless motor and has the most classic tackling technique seen in 20 years.

Kennedy won 10 times from 13 games, while Trbojevic has five wins from nine and has been instrumental in both these series victories for NSW.

BENCH UTILITY: Craig Wing or Dale Finucane

Winner: Wing.

Apples to oranges, obviously, with Wing a playmaker and Finucane a middle forward; plus, Wing actually missed Origin III in 2005. But Wing was the ultimate impact player through 12 NSW appearances.

BENCH PROP: Steve Simpson or Paul Vaughan

Winner: Vaughan.

Vaughan’s running power and ability to sniff out a try gives him the edge here, with the Dragons star notching his maiden Origin four-pointer in the decider.

BENCH BACK-ROW: Steve Menzies or Cameron Murray

Winner: Menzies.

Murray is a rising star who produced big moments in Origin III. ‘Beaver’ Menzies is one of the great try-scoring forwards and appeared for NSW 20 times, crossing the line on four occasions.

BENCH BACK-ROW: Andrew Ryan or Wade Graham

Winner: Graham.

‘Bobcat’ Ryan is among the most reliable players ever to lace a boot and he got 12 games for the Blues, but Graham’s skills as a second five-eighth are invaluable to NSW.

OUR NSW SUPER-TEAM

1. James Tedesco

2. Blake Ferguson

3. Mark Gasnier

4. Tom Trbojevic

5. Timana Tahu

6. James Maloney

7. Andrew Johns

8. Luke Bailey

9. Danny Buderus (c)

10. David Klemmer

11. Boyd Cordner

12. Nathan Hindmarsh

13. Jake Trbojevic

14. Craig Wing

15. Paul Vaughan

16. Steve Menzies

17. Wade Graham

NSW just won consecutive State of Origin series for the first time since a 2003-05 treble, from a side headlined by Andrew Johns.

They're both wonderful Blues teams. For the hell of it, we've put them head-to-head to determined who we'd pick in a combined 17.

We've taken the NSW Origin III team of 2005 and put it against the Blues outfit that won this year's decider on Wednesday night. We made an exception for bench utility Craig Wing, who played Origin I and II in '05 but missed the decider.

In a couple of instances, we shuffled stars to the other side of the field to avoid any selection atrocities. Chances are, you'll still think that we committed some.

Let the debate begin. Here is our NSW super-team, with nine current Blues and eight legends. It's a narrow win for the class of 2019.

FULLBACK: Anthony Minichiello or James Tedesco

Winner: Tedesco.

Tedesco gives you déjà vu; he is shades of Minichiello, his Roosters mentor. Watching him run is like flicking the game to fast forward. He is an ever-present threat.

Tough call, but Tedesco is arguably the best player in rugby league right now. He was rewarded with the Wally Lewis Medal for absolutely playing out of his mind this Origin series.

Minichiello actually boasts a better strike rate for NSW: he scored eight tries in 11 Origins, against five in 10 for Tedesco. Maybe it’s recency bias but Tedesco was irresistible in Origin III, running 230 metres, making three line breaks and scoring the winning try in the final minute.

WING: Timana Tahu or Blake Ferguson, Matt King or Josh Addo-Carr

Winners: Tahu and Ferguson.

We’re going to cheat a little here and take both right wingers. Tahu and Ferguson is a monster wing pairing.

Tahu scored eight tries from 12 Origins, while Ferguson amazingly has none from nine games; but his value comes from being a pseudo prop to start sets. King scored six tries from nine Origins, while Addo-Carr has been brilliant in scoring four from six games.

CENTRE: Mark Gasnier or Tom Trbojevic, Matt Cooper or Jack Wighton

Winners: Gasnier and Trbojevic.

So shoot us – we’re taking both right-sided players again, because it would be criminal to leave either Gasnier of Trbojevic out. With Trbojevic slotting in from fullback anyway, you could happily throw him at left centre and leave Gasnier in his favoured spot on the right.

Gasnier-Trbojevic: that’s enough to scare the daylights out of any Queenslander.

Gasnier scored four tries from 12 Origins; his footwork in attack was breathtaking, his defence rock solid. Trbojevic’s freakish athleticism – essentially playing as a second fullback in attack – has netted him five tries in as many games. ‘Turbo’ has an 80 per cent win rate in Origin thus far.

Cooper scored three tries from 13 Origins and was a defensive beast, while Wighton was superb after replacing Latrell Mitchell at left centre for this series.

FIVE-EIGHTH: Braith Anasta or James Maloney

Winner: Maloney.

As we discussed here, Jimmy Maloney is simply a winner. He has been the key playmaker in NSW’s first consecutive series wins since Anasta partnered Andrew Johns in 2005.

Anasta was a far better defender, but Maloney’s brilliance has more than made up for his shortcomings.

HALFBACK: Andrew Johns or Mitchell Pearce

Winner: Johns.

Watching Pearce finally win an Origin series last night was wonderful, but this is no contest. Johns’ performance in Origin 2005 remains one of the greatest in rugby league history and the Eighth Immortal is the first man picked in this side.

HOOKER: Danny Buderus or Damien Cook

Winner: Buderus.

This is a harder call than logic would dictate; Buderus is an all-time great and the captain of that iconic 2005 series win. Yet ‘Bedsy’ couldn’t have scored that explosive individual try that Cook produced for the Blues in Origin III.

We’re giving the heart-and-soul veteran the nod after a record 21 consecutive games of distinguished service, courageously delivered despite his excruciating long-term injuries.

But Cook … what a player. His sensational combination with Tedesco has been the highlight of these back-to-back NSW series wins.

FRONT-ROW: Luke Bailey, Daniel Saifiti, Jason Ryles, David Klemmer

Winners: Bailey and Klemmer.

Luke Bailey would have been equally at home in the current era of footy. He was an absolute work horse on both sides of the ball.

Saifiti didn’t put a foot wrong after his surprise mid-series call-up, but the ‘Bull’ rarely played a bad game in 15 NSW appearances.

Ryles was a somewhat maligned player; a Dragons star who was brilliant one day and a lightning rod for criticism the next. Klemmer is a raging beast.

The Knights star had an intriguing game last night. It lacked the brutal impact of his Origin I performance and didn’t seem super-impressive, yet he still belted out 125 run metres; a close second to outstanding NSW captain Boyd Cordner as the Blues’ most productive forward.

Klemmer has already played 14 Origins and is en route to becoming an all-time great.

SECOND-ROW: Nathan Hindmarsh, Boyd Cordner, Craig Fitzgibbon, Tyson Frizell

Winners: Hindmarsh and Cordner.

‘Hindy’ once made so many tackles at the start of an Origin game that he went to the sideline to throw up. Cordner has been Captain Fantastic for NSW, playing injured and performing with distinction. It was an absolute captain’s knock in Origin III.

We've picked the second-rowers without choosing precise field positions etc; all four are versatile players.

Hindmarsh played 17 games for the Blues, while Cordner already has 15. Fitzgibbon and Frizell have both played 11; and Fitzgibbon shared this series win as NSW’s defensive coach.

LOCK: Ben Kennedy or Jake Trbojevic

Winner: Trbojevic.

Tough call. Kennedy was a wrecking ball, but Trbojevic is the complete package. He was man of the match in Origin II, offers a supreme skill-set on top of a tireless motor and has the most classic tackling technique seen in 20 years.

Kennedy won 10 times from 13 games, while Trbojevic has five wins from nine and has been instrumental in both these series victories for NSW.

BENCH UTILITY: Craig Wing or Dale Finucane

Winner: Wing.

Apples to oranges, obviously, with Wing a playmaker and Finucane a middle forward; plus, Wing actually missed Origin III in 2005. But Wing was the ultimate impact player through 12 NSW appearances.

BENCH PROP: Steve Simpson or Paul Vaughan

Winner: Vaughan.

Vaughan’s running power and ability to sniff out a try gives him the edge here, with the Dragons star notching his maiden Origin four-pointer in the decider.

BENCH BACK-ROW: Steve Menzies or Cameron Murray

Winner: Menzies.

Murray is a rising star who produced big moments in Origin III. ‘Beaver’ Menzies is one of the great try-scoring forwards and appeared for NSW 20 times, crossing the line on four occasions.

BENCH BACK-ROW: Andrew Ryan or Wade Graham

Winner: Graham.

‘Bobcat’ Ryan is among the most reliable players ever to lace a boot and he got 12 games for the Blues, but Graham’s skills as a second five-eighth are invaluable to NSW.

OUR NSW SUPER-TEAM

1. James Tedesco

2. Blake Ferguson

3. Mark Gasnier

4. Tom Trbojevic

5. Timana Tahu

6. James Maloney

7. Andrew Johns

8. Luke Bailey

9. Danny Buderus (c)

10. David Klemmer

11. Boyd Cordner

12. Nathan Hindmarsh

13. Jake Trbojevic

14. Craig Wing

15. Paul Vaughan

16. Steve Menzies

17. Wade Graham

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