Brad Fittler has a lot to do heading into the State of Origin opener. There are a few positions that could be his due to injury or a dip in form.
Ryan Papenhuyzen, Cameron Murray, and Latrell Mitchell will all be absent, which means that the Blues are without Ryan Papenhuyzen, the current Dally M Medal leader, and two of last year’s Blues players.
is the position most in contention for the Blues going into the series opener. was created following the injury of Latrell Mitchell.
Siosifa was able to make it into the frame following some impressive performances but was defeated by Kotoni Stapgs, who won a big win over Cronulla.
Another injury concern in NSW and South Sydney is workhorse forward Cameron Murray. He has had shoulder surgery and will be out of action for one month.
Murray has reclaimed a spot at the right edge. Angus Crichton is expected to take the left-side second-row slot.
Penrith’s Penrith halves will be a boon for Liam Martin, who appears to be the front-runner at the stage. However, Fittler could still prove loyal to Tariq SIMS despite his poor club form.
Discussions could also include young guns Haumole Olakau’atu and Keaon Koloamatangi, with the possibility of one of them being included on the interchange bench.
The No.14 utility position is always a difficult decision for Origin coaches.
Jack Wighton was there during the 2021 series. However, his club form and recent suspension have likely made him fall behind the rest of the pecking orders.
Ryan Papenhuyzen was a potential utility candidate, but he has been disabled by knee and hamstring injuries for six weeks.
Given his recent form, and his ability to fill a variety of positions, Cronulla star Nicho Hines seems like the right choice at this point.
The injuries to key players have made the other positions more prominently, but Brad Fittler’s front-row rotation will be fascinating.
Assuming Isaah Yio will start at lock, which he will absolutely do, that leaves two front-row seats and two middle spots on a bench.
Payne Haas, Junior Paulo and Junior Paulo should be commended. They are excellent at club level, and have shown their ability at Origin.
Although Jake Trbojevic may not be setting the world ablaze for Manly, he has been there and done it at Origin level so he will likely keep his spot.
Daniel Saifiti is the man most under pressure to retain his spot, as his club Newcastle is struggling and his form is dipping in 2022.