Unless you have been living under a rock Origin talk is in full swing and particularly NSW talk. And particularly pivot talk. It's all about Mitchell Pearce, who gets the final say, and who would potentially pair him. I am going out on a limb to say Pearce isn't ready for Origin one and I don't think Daley will pick him. So where do we end up?. Let's look at the position's, the contenders and what shape Daley's side might take for State of Origin one on June 1st.
Fullback - Contenders (Coote, Moylan, Dugan, Hayne)
YES, Daley said if Hayne does't make Fiji 7s and can get registered in time he would be considered for Origin. But I don't think it will happen. Given Ferguson will occupy a wing spot and Dugan has that combination with him he will play outside centre. Coote has size over Moylan and he is a good kicking option in general play. Moylan has a lot more skill and ball playing ability. I think Moylan will be the choice.
Wings - Contenders (Mansour, Hopoate, Ferguson, Coote, Tupou)
Ferguson is in. Skilful, big, committed, a changed man and a changed player and could provide QLD with a few troubles. On the other side, it is hard to know if Hopoate's choice to skip Sunday games will cost him come selection day. Tupou always an option but Mansour really pressed his claims in City v Country and for me gets the nod.
Centres - Conteders (Morris, Dugan, Jennings, Croker)
I think one of the great mysteries of our era will be why hasn't Jarrod Croker played Origin for NSW?. Solid in defence, a points scoring machine, provides a kicking option. And by the end of his career will probably the games most prolific points scorer. His detractors say he is too small for Origin, tell that to Allan Langer!. Dugan is in because you have to have him the side somewhere, he is in the top 5 players in the NRL at the moment. Jennings in solid form for the Eels means he will retain his spot, which pushes Morris out of the side.
Back Row, Lock and Second Row - Contenders (Gallen, Scott, Merrin, Lewis, Bird, Jackson, Cartwright, Cordner)
It's fair to say this is where Daley has a wealth of talent. Lewis although in career best form might find age has got him. Which is a shame he is one my favourite players. Merrin probably isn't showing the form that saw him selected in previous years. All the talk has been about Cartwright, however I I don't know if he will force himself in. Even on the bench. Although he is a young exciting talent with bucket loads of potential I think he is still one or two years off. If he is a bolter it will be a bench spot or 18th man. Bird has to be there somewhere, he was sorely missed last year and NSW are just not the same side without him. Scott in good form I think will be selected it will just be a matter of who gets run on and who gets benched between himself and Bird. Also if Daley really feels he has no option in the middle Bird might very well find himself with No 6. on his back. Don't rule it out stranger things have happened. And he has played at No 6. for NSW in the past. Cordner fills a spot without question on current form.
At lock it's no question, the captain Paul Gallen. He is in the top 3 of best forwards in the NRL at the moment and in the Anzac test turned back the clock and we got to see vintage Gallen tear up the Kiwi's. A deserved man of the match and in his last Origin series expect him to rip in!. Gallen will go down as one of the best locks in history when he hangs up his boots and rightly so.
Front Row - Contenders (Fifita, Woods, Tamou, Klemmer)
Woods and Tamou, no argument. The question will be whether or not Daley selects Klemmer and Fifita on the bench or goes with more mobile forwards in interchange. Traditionally Origin one is up the middle where you select a bigger pack.
Hooker - Contenders (Kostjasyn, Ennis, Farah)
Kostjasyn off the bat is out, purely because he doesn't play 80 for the Cowboys and Daley needs an 80 minute hooker. In addition Farah and Ennis are just ahead of him on skill and experience anyway. His name is there because he is probably 3rd string at the moment. If Daley is picking on form Ennis gets the nod. If he is picking on incumbency it's Farah. Ennis might find himself in an advantageous position in that Farah misses this week with concussion it was a heavy knock and it might make him unavailable if he doesn't recover in time. I honestly can't split them and both would do the job if called upon.
Halves - Contenders (Maloney, Pearce, Reynolds A., Reynolds J., Hodkinson, Sezer, Austin, Soward, Wallace)
So here we are, where the debate has been raging. First off let's just state it's not that Daley is lacking numbers in the pivot spots. It's that Daley is lacking numbers of in form pivot players. Maloney is almost certainly inked in at No 6. He is the most in form out of all the NSW halves. I think that put's Austin out unfortunately. Although supremely talented both he and Maloney are ball running five eighth's and you can't have two. With Maloney at 6. you need a ball playing half and someone who can control a game. For me this puts both the Reynolds (A and J) and Sezer out of the mix. I don't think they are as structured as Daley would like. This leaves Soward and Hodkinson. I don't think it would be out of place for Soward to make his return to this arena. But I think Hodkinson retains his spot. Although the Knights can't take a trick this year Hodkinson is still in good form and with some good players around him should lift. Also Daley needs his cool head in tight situations.
To recap here is where we have landed:
9. Farah/Ennis (I still can't split them)
13. Gallen (c)
Interchange: Bird, Fifita, Klemmer, Jackson 18th man Cartwright.
And for my bolter, because you have to have a bolter. It has to be Tyrone Peachey. So wonderfully skilled, he has speed, agility and a good passing game can kick and can defend. NSW could do a lot worse than use Peachey off the bench like they did with Craig Wing so successfully in the 2000's.
All in all not too many surprises and Daley has said himself he wont be going with too many changes, he wants experience more than anything.
Tomorrow I will pick my QLD side, which almost picks itself.
Bring on Origin!