Only 3 weeks to go NRL fans. 3 weeks until State of Origin Game 1 at the MCG on June 6th. Many fans have already purchased their tickets to ensure they will be there and many are doing anything they can to get tickets to make sure they don't miss out too. Fans travelling from Queensland or New South Wales are packing their bags with the respective apparel to suit their team however, they pack without the knowledge of the men who will wear the colours for their state. It may be 3 weeks until kick off but it's only 2 weeks until S day. Selection day. Queensland have had their world turned upside down and rattled with Cameron Smith breaking the news that he has retired from representative football effective immediately so they don't have a hooker or a captain as of yet so let's leave them be. They'll work out what to do once the day comes around. New South Wales however need all the help they can get - or so we like to think.
New South Wales fans care, a lot. They want to see the boys in the sky blue lifting the shield as we have watched the Queensland team do time and time again. This is the year for the blues, it's make or break. We are facing a new generation of Queenslanders and now is the time to make an impression. Thurston, gone. Cronk, gone. Smith, gone. What more could NSW want? (besides Slater too, but he aint going anywhere this year let's be realistic)
Genuinely, what do the fans want? If in two weeks time Brad Fittler fronted the media and made a plea to the Blatchie Blues of NSW to pick a team for him, who would they pick? Obviously, this is never going to happen but of course, as they do every year, the fans have complied their wish list for June 6th. Not too many people see eye to eye on the whole 1-17 but there are many big questions being asked about specific players and positions. I wanted to know what the opinions on these big questions were so I turned to the only platform I knew I could rely on - twitter. I received approximately 100 votes per question asked so in Family Feud style: I surveyed (approximately) 100 people and the top answers are on the board.
Up until a few weeks ago, this fullback debate was one that had people butting heads like anything. Tedesco vs Trbojevic. You saw it everywhere. However, since the last few weeks it seems that the blues faithfuls have settled on experience. Tedesco and Trbojevic both aren't having the best seasons however, this proves much more detrimental for an Origin rookie than a player who contributed massively to any NSW hope last season. Freddy, you gotta go with Teddy. (Note: we did have 2 votes for Gutherson and 1 for Alex Johnston)
Nathan Peats worked tremendously hard to earn his sky blue jersey last series however, this season you can not deny that the two young guys McInnes and Cook are outplaying the veteran. This one has been another tug-o-war for fans however, I believe the Souths v Dragons game in round 10 cemented Cook's place in many hearts. Personally, I'm not too sure why any votes were given to Peats and Koroisau but maybe some fans just wanted to show their loyalty to their players...or they were taking the piss.
When McInnes and his fellow Dragons players were tearing up the league in the first 10 rounds, many fans had come to the conclusion that a utility player would be the best option to keep both McInnes and Cook in the line up however, once this idea came to heat, Tyrone Peachey started waving his hand in the air. It seems now that most fans would rather Peachey as a utility with whichever hooker or no utility at all. If the fans had their way, it looks like the lineup would very well have Cook in the 9 with Peachey in the 14. Fittler has an interesting decision on his hand. Hooker plus utility or hooker and no utility?
This is the most divided the fans have been. Although Nathan Cleary has won out of the options of Green and Reynolds, he hasn't won by a landslind by all means. I had many fans throwing around the names Cody Walker and Luke Keary instead of Nathan Cleary. Many argued that there is no way Cleary would be fit enough to which many responded that if he is fit enough, he knows Maloney's game which is an advantage. Mitchell Moses and Luke Brooks are also still having their names thrown around so I've come to accept the fact that fans may just never agree on this. We're gonna have to hand this over to Freddy and see what he does.
It has been easily assumed that the majority of the forward pack for the blues will be dominated by Dragons players. Whether it will be Frizell, de Belin, Vaughn and Sims is uncertain yet however, if the four are selected who will do the hard hitting with them? According to the fans, Cordner wouldn't be there if it weren't for his captaincy last season (a discussion which has also divided many and caused an immense frustration), Graham is definitely not a sure thing but also is definitely not a sure exclusion and Jake Trbojevic should be given the jersey right now. Blues fans are divided on many matters but Jake Trbojevic retaining his spot is not one of them. It feels nice to actually be certain about a player's selection for once...
NSW fans are done with Dugan and Ferguson. Whether it's the rowdy behaviour from season's pasts, too many injuries or that they just aren't in form is uncertain but one thing that is certain is that neither of the cruiser boys are in the blues fan's 1-17. Ferguson has more of a chance than Dugan, who seems all but buried by his fans. Perhaps, Dugan's lack of votes is also due to Latrell Mitchell's increase of votes. Is it time for the new guys to take over the back line for the blues? Can Latrell be the start of something new?
As fun as it is making predictions for the lineup as fans, I think I speak for everyone when I say I'm glad Freddy has the job and not me. No matter who is in that lineup, I'll still be cheering in my blues onesie hoping the boys can bring it home.