NSW and Queensland Origin squads head-to-head: Who wins?

Queenslander Nate Myles gets an offload away during Game III of State of Origin last year. Photo / Getty Images
Queenslander Nate Myles gets an offload away during Game III of State of Origin last year. Photo / Getty Images

The State of Origin opener is less than a week away and we know the makeup of the squads that will face off against each other.

But who wins on paper out of the Blues and Maroons?

Our head-to-head analysis has the answer.

Fullback:

Matt Moylan (NSW): LOSER

Exciting Penrith debutant with more than just a touch of class who may well be a future Blues skipper down the track.

Should be handed a roving commission by coach Laurie Daley because he could potentially be more creative with the football than either of the Blues halves.

His first game at this level will be a huge test though.

Queensland will target him heavily early to try and expose his big match inexperience.

Darius Boyd (QLD): WINNER

It has taken him 23 games and eight seasons to get there but Boyd will finally wear his favoured No 1 jumper in Origin instead of being stuck out on the wing thanks to Billy Slater's long-term injury and Greg Inglis' shift back to the centres after some indifferent early season club form.

Boyd has had his issues off the field and has the potential to fill the "most hated Maroon" void left by the retired Justin Hodges.

But as ball-playing fullbacks go, few find the right man with a pass better than this bloke.

Wing:

Blake Ferguson (NSW): WINNER
He played for Australia in this position a few weeks back, is strong in the air and a destructive ball runner when he gets some room to move.

But let's be honest, he was selected out of position on reputation and what he can potentially bring to Origin rather than because his club form with the Roosters demanded he be picked.

Defence can be suspect but there is no question he has match-winning capabilities.

He just needs to find them.

Corey Oates (QLD): LOSER
Origin debutant but unlike Ferguson, his club form for the Broncos made coach Kevin Walters' job of picking him a fairly straight-forward one.

Big, strong and great in the air, he will get some opportunities outside Inglis and won't be easy to contain.

He was concussed and suffered dizzy spells a week ago against the Cowboys so hopefully he has forgotten how good he has been going this season.

Centre:

Josh Dugan (NSW): LOSER
His club form suggests he is a far better fullback than he is a centre and he has been under a bit of an injury cloud which is a worry given he is matching up against Inglis.

While Josh Morris may have been the safer defensive option, Daley has presumably opted for Dugan because he is a greater attacking threat.

Above all else, Dugan is a great competitor who has proven himself at this level but he will have his hands full on Wednesday night.

Greg Inglis (QLD): WINNER
Here we were thinking Inglis's best was well and truly behind him thanks to some average form for Souths prior to the Anzac Test.

But big games tend to bring out the best in him and if he is in the right mood come Wednesday night, the Blues will know about it, just as the Kiwis found out in Newcastle.

Expect Thurston to give him plenty of opportunities on what is shaping as a potent left edge for the Maroons.

Centre:

Michael Jennings (NSW): WINNER

Has lightning speed off the mark and is one of the game's best broken field runners.

But the defensive nature of most Origin games has meant Jennings' opportunities have been limited so Blues fans will be hoping he can maximise any chance that comes his way.

Up against Cowboys debutant Justin O'Neill who can motor as well so it will be an absorbing contest.

Justin O'Neill (QLD): LOSER

Gets his first shot at Origin because of Will Chambers' long-term injury but the Cowboys centre played in last season's grandfinal triumph so the big stage at ANZ Stadium won't be completely foreign to him.

Has the added advantage of having the Cowboys playmaking connection of Thurston and Morgan in the squad while he also played outside Maroons half Cooper Cronk at the Storm.

Wing:

Josh Mansour (NSW): WINNER

Another Panthers debutant whose bull-at-a-gate charges and willingness to come off his wing and look for work appear tailor-made for Origin.

Rarely seems in a good mood when he plays and will bring plenty of aggression and a touch of spite to the table on Wednesday night.

If nerves are a factor, he should feel more at ease with Panthers team-mate Matt Moylan in close proximity at the back.

Dane Gagai (NSW): LOSER
Tasted Origin for the first time in the Maroons final game massacre in 2015 but is said to have been lucky to hold his place in the side for game one even though he has been one of Newcastle's better players in a team that has been really struggling.

Light on his feet and dangerous with the football but the Blues will fancy their chances when he is forced to defend.

Five-Eighth:

James Maloney (NSW): LOSER
Many thought his papers were stamped "never again" after he was dumped from the Blues side after playing in all three games in the 2013 series defeat.

But three years on, his good form for the Sharks and a lack of genuine alternatives sees him get another chance.

Has a cool head but misses plenty of tackles and was regarded by the Maroons as a speed-hump in 2013.

They will come at him hard again.

Johnathan Thurston (QLD): WINNER
Just for once, Blues fans would love to see him have an off night but the great players rarely do.

With no Beau Scott to put the wind up him with a late shot or two, the fear is Thurston will simply get comfortable out there and weave his usual magic with the football.

Not a great one on one defender so that is one aspect of his game the Blues must try and exploit.

Halfback:

Adam Reynolds (NSW): LOSER

Armed with one of the code's best kicking games, Reynolds has been an Origin contender for the past two or three seasons and finally gets his chance on the back of Mitchell Pearce's off-field dramas and Trent Hodkinson's lack of form.

His own form for the Bunnies had been ordinary until the past few weeks where he has stepped it up.

Question marks remain over his ability to create in attack.

Cooper Cronk (QLD): WINNER

The Blues won the series in his absence two years ago which shows how vital he is to the Queensland cause.

And while there may have been a few question marks over his representative future early in the season when he was struggling for form with the Storm, he has been back to his best over the past month.

Will be influential but just how influential is the key.

Prop:

Paul Gallen (NSW): WINNER

Has his distractors who claim he is selfish and it's all about his own personal stats when he plays but his great form for the Sharks and Kangaroos over the past six weeks can't be denied.

His work ethic is second to none and you know he is going to take the Maroons pack head on in what he has indicated will be his last Origin series for the Blues.

Just needs to make sure he doesn't over-play his hand.

Nate Myles (QLD): LOSER

The greatest example yet of Queensland's "pick-n-stick" selection policy.

Has hardly bruised a grape for Manly this season and so underwhelming has been his form, a lesser name may have found himself playing reggies at the club.

But the Maroons know what he is capable of at this level so have picked him on reputation.

Trent Barrett will no doubt be watching with interest.

Hooker:

Robbie Farah (NSW): LOSER

Coach Laurie Daley has presumably gone with his own instincts here because Farah doesn't deserve his selection ahead of Michael Ennis on form.

It means the Tigers No 9 will need a big game on Wednesday night to justify the faith of his coach.

Like Gallen, the biggest criticism of Farah is that he can be guilty of playing for himself.

Needs to gel quickly with two new playmakers.

Cameron Smith (QLD): WINNER

Like Cronk, Smith appeared a little out of sorts at times for the Storm earlier in the season with passes not finding their mark with his usual precision.

But if there was a glitch there, it was only a minor one because he has had Melbourne back running like a well-oiled machine again over the past five or six weeks.

Will try and dictate from dummy half and needs to be neutralised.

Prop:

Aaron Woods (NSW): LOSER

Injury cost him a Test jumper earlier this month but his form for the Tigers since his return a few weeks back has him primed to again produce his best on the big stage.

The forward battle will ultimately decide the contest so the platform laid by the Tigers captain and Gallen in the opening 20 minutes will be crucial to the Blues chances.

Matt Scott (QLD): WINNER

Still rightfully regarded as the game's number one frontrower and following off-season neck surgery to save his career, comes into this Origin campaign injury free and ready to rip into the Blues.

Such is his influence, a big series from the Cowboys co-captain will almost certainly see the Maroons regain the shield.

His individual duel with Woods should be a beauty.

Second Row:

Boyd Cordner (NSW): WINNER

Missed the opening seven rounds of the premiership through injury but has needed only a few games to convince coach Daley he is ready to go at this level.

Good line runner on the left edge but won't have the familiar figure of Roosters teammate Mitchell Pearce calling the shots inside him.

Sam Thaiday (QLD): LOSER

In the run-on side for both Australia and here for the Maroons but can't crack it for a regular starting spot at club level.

Go figure.

Provides plenty of energy when out there and will no doubt be zeroing in on Maloney when he carts the ball up. Not the force he was though.

Second Row:

Josh Jackson (NSW): LOSER

His selection ahead of Beau Scott has flown under the radar because there are plenty who would not have had him pencilled in their 17 let alone in the run-on side a week or two ago.

Will churn out plenty of minutes and make plenty of tackles and presumably got the nod over Scott because he is a superior passer of the footy.

Had his best game for the Bulldogs in last weekend's win over the Roosters.

Matt Gillett (QLD): WINNER

Has been consistently among Brisbane's best forwards this season and rewarded with a Test jumper earlier this month.

Gets through a lot of work in attack and defence for an edge backrower and is coming into his fifth consecutive Origin series in a row for the Maroons having not missed a game since 2012.

Lock:

Greg Bird (NSW): DRAW

A proven player at this level for the Blues who is still smarting at his omission from the Kangaroos squad for the Anzac Test so comes into this opening game of the series with a point to prove on the back of missing the entire 2015 Origin campaign because of suspension.

Will cop plenty and dish plenty out up the middle but has the ability to be creative on an edge if needed.

Corey Parker (QLD): DRAW

One of the Maroons' ageing veterans whose form has been as solid as ever with the added responsibility of the captaincy at the Broncos.

Rest assured his dangerous ability to off-load the footy and promote second phase for Cronk and Thurston will have been spoken about heavily in Blues' team meetings leading into the game.

Interchange:

Dylan Walker, James Tamou, David Klemmer, Andrew Fifita (NSW): WINNER

Walker's selection and how he will be used remains a bit of a mystery but the Blues boast plenty of forward firepower with Tamou, Klemmer and Fifita coming on fresh.

Fifita demanded selection with his outstanding form for the Sharks and while he can be undisciplined, he can also provide some x-factor with the footy that may be needed to prise open the Maroons defence.

Michael Morgan, Josh McGuire, Aidan Guerra, Josh Papalii (QLD): LOSER

The Maroons bench boasts three current Test players in Morgan, McGuire and Papalaii with the Cowboys' playmaker loaming as a real threat against a tiring defence when he is thrown into the game.

Whether McGuire, Papalii and an out of form Guerra can match the impact of the Blues' trio of bench forwards is questionable.

- news.com.au

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