James Tedesco of the NSW Blues.
James Tedesco of the NSW Blues. DAN PELED

The match-ups that will decide who wins State of Origin

NEWS Regional's Matthew McInerney and Matthew Elkerton look at the vital duels in tonight's State of Origin clash in Sydney.

 

FULLBACK

James Tedesco v Billy Slater

McInerney: This is arguably the most mouth-watering match-up this series. Slater has long been the benchmark for rep fullbacks, but Tedesco's game-one performance sets this up as master v apprentice duel. Slater will again prove he's the best fullback of the modern era but Tedesco's time will come.

Elkerton: James Tedesco, take a bow. The livewire fullback was the Blues' best in Origin I. Behind a pack that is going forward, there is no limit to what he can achieve. Coming head to head with the best fullback in Origin history will be a telling point for Teddy.

 

Andrew Fifita of the NSW Blues ploughs through the Queensland Maroons defence in game one.
Andrew Fifita of the NSW Blues ploughs through the Queensland Maroons defence in game one. DAN PELED

PROPS

Andrew Fifita v Jarrod Wallace

McInerney: There's baptisms of fire, then there's this. Wallace is tasked with trying to stop Fifita, whose game-one performance was one of the best in decades. Wallace is a good match: he has the size, boasts similar NRL yardage (Fifita 1893m, Wallace 1858m) and is just as willing to take a hit-up (163 runs v 167). Where Wallace wins is in defence (332 tackles v 447), and that could be the difference. (Stats via NRL app.)

Elkerton: If Tedesco was the Blues' best, than Fifita was second by a hair's width. The NRL's favourite bad boy is an unstoppable machine when he takes the field, and with the metres on offer in game one he lapped them up greedily. While he won't get it as easy in game two, he will want to stamp his authority.

 

Darius Boyd of the Queensland Maroons.
Darius Boyd of the Queensland Maroons. DAN PELED

CENTRES

Jarryd Hayne v Darius Boyd

McInerney: The decision to move the incumbent Australian fullback to the centres is a risky move, but Boyd has previously proved he can adapt to new positions. That unfamiliarity could actually play into the Maroons' hands: Hayne and co may not know what to expect.

Elkerton: The Hayne Plane took off in the first game but recent performances for the Titans have me worried. Hayne has almost looked disinterested for the Gold Coast this season and he will need to be at his best against Queensland.

 

Jake Trbojevic during a New South Wales State of Origin team training session.
Jake Trbojevic during a New South Wales State of Origin team training session. DAVE HUNT

RESERVE FORWARDS

Jake Trbojevic v Coen Hess

McInerney: This is a battle that could appear in this column for the next decade. Surrounded by veterans, and a strong club combination with Johnathan Thurston, Michael Morgan and Gavin Cooper, there's no reason Hess will stutter in his Origin debut.

Elkerton: Trbojevic is the future of the Blues. He will be a decade-long Origin star and his first game in the sky blue did him no disservice. Cut from a similar cloth to Nathan Hindmarsh, he gets through a mountain of defensive work while still averaging 130 run metres a game.

News Corp Australia


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