:	Digital Image by Colin Whelan copyright © nrlphotos. 	Jack Bird	Representative Rugby League, City v Country at Wagga Wagga, Sunday April 3rd 2015.

NRL.com's Country Origin side

Ahead of the announcement of the NSW City Origin squad to play Country at Scully Park on May 8, the NRL.com staff writers have come up with the side they would pick to represent Country.

Tony Webeck – Chief Queensland Correspondent

1 Jack Wighton, 2 Sione Mata'utia, 3 Jack Bird, 4 Jarrod Croker, 5 Michael Gordon, 6 Tyrone Roberts, 7 James Maloney, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James, 11 Josh Jackson, 12 Tyson Frizell, 13 Trent Merrin. Interchange: 14 Shaun Fensom, 15 Kyle Turner, 16 Jordan McLean, 17 Jack de Belin.

With Blake Ferguson in the Kangaroos side, I'm tipping Jack Bird to move to the centres and Tyrone Roberts to be handed a Country berth. Both Kyle Turner and Jordan McLean deserve their first senior representative jerseys and I've picked Shaun Fensom as some cover for Mitch Rein. Tariq Sims will be in Parramatta playing for Fiji.

Chris Kennedy – National Correspondent

1 Jack Bird, 2 Akuila Uate, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Jack Wighton, 5 Michael Gordon, 6 James Maloney, 7 Jackson Hastings, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Jack de Belin, 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Joel Thompson, 15 Paul Vaughan, 16 Shannon Boyd, 17 Dale Finucane.

Country seem to be way heavier on forwards compared to City's glut of playmakers and utilities. I've opted to see what Bird can do at the back to get Hastings into the side. James and De Belin are putting themselves right in the Origin conversation while the perennially overlooked Fensom was an easy pick as starting lock.

Martin Gabor – National Correspondent

1 Jack Wighton, 2 Akuila Uate, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Jack Bird, 5 Michael Gordon, 6 James Maloney, 7 Jackson Hastings, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Jack de Belin, 15 Paul Vaughan, 16 Shannon Boyd, 17 Mitchell Aubusson.

The Country side is full of toilers in the forwards, led by tackling machine Shaun Fensom (surely). James Maloney and Jackson Hastings will rekindle the combination they forged at the Roosters and will be ably supported by the pizzazz of Jack Bird. There is no shortage of goal kickers in this team, with Maloney, Hastings, Jarrod Croker and Michael Gordon amongst the best in the NRL. 

Jack Brady – National Correspondent

1 Jack Wighton, 2 Sione Mata'utia, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Jack Bird, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 James Maloney, 7 Jackson Hastings, 8 Paul Vaughan, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Joel Thompson, 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Jack de Belin, 15 Shannon Boyd, 16 Tariq Sims, 17 Dale Finucane.

I've just about had it with the City v Country game. Not because I think it's redundant (I love the annual clash) rather I'm sick and tired of Shaun Fensom being overlooked. #FensomForCountry has been trending worldwide (or at least from my account) on Twitter for years now. I – and the millions of punters lining the streets chanting "Fensom!" – are hoping this is the year our lives don't spiral out of control when Craig Fitzgibbon picks somebody that's not the Raiders cult hero.

Corey Rosser – NZ Correspondent

1 Jack Wighton, 2 Euan Aitken, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Jack Bird, 5 Anthony Don, 6 James Maloney, 7 Jackson Hastings, 8 Aiden Tolman, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James, 11 Joel Thompson, 12 Tariq Sims, 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Jack de Belin, 15 Jordan McLean, 16 Trent Merrin, 17 Dale Finucane.

Let me take this opportunity to officially announce that I'm opening the first New Zealand branch of the Shaun Fensom Appreciation Club. With his own hashtag now prospering, I can't think of a single reason to deny the hard-working Raider his first Country jersey. His club teammate Jarrod Croker is a must in the centres, while Euan Aitken adds some power to an otherwise fairly small backline. Forwards Jack de Belin and Jordan McLean are having breakthrough seasons and earn a spot on the bench.

Adrian McMurray – Producer

1 Jack Bird, 2 Sione Mata'utia, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Jack Wighton, 5 Michael Gordon, 6 James Maloney, 7 Jackson Hastings, 8 Ryan James, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Paul Vaughan, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Josh Jackson, 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Joel Thompson, 15 Dale Finucane, 16 Shannon Boyd, 17 Tariq Sims.

I've opted to see what the versatile Jack Bird can do at the back, with Sione Mata'utia joining the wing. Sticking with a youth policy, it would be interesting to see what Jackson Hastings could do alongside former Roosters teammate James Maloney, while I would love to see cult favourite Shaun Fensom earn rep honours.

Dominic Brock – Production Editor

1 Jack Wighton, 2 Michael Gordon, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Jack Bird, 5 Akuila Uate, 6 James Maloney, 7 Jackson Hastings, 8 Trent Merrin, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Ryan James, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Jack de Belin, 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Josh Jackson, 15 Dale Finucane, 16 Shannon Boyd, 17 Paul Vaughan.

There are a lot of workhorses in this forward pack so a low-scoring grinding contest would suit this Country side much more than City, who have a bit more flair in the outside backs. In saying that, any team with James Maloney, Jarrod Croker and Jack Bird in it can score points, and there are several NSW hopefuls in the forwards who could do a job on the Origin stage if given a chance. I'm not overly confident Shaun Fensom will get the support on the selection table that he's been given from us in the NRL.com offices, but Canberra's tackle machine deserves a shot at this level.

Andrew Bryan – Deputy Editor

1 Jack Wighton, 2 Akuila Uate, 3 Jarrod Croker, 4 Jack Bird, 5 Michael Gordon, 6 James Maloney, 7 Tyrone Roberts, 8 Paul Vaughan, 9 Mitch Rein, 10 Trent Merrin, 11 Tyson Frizell, 12 Greg Bird, 13 Shaun Fensom. Interchange: 14 Mitchell Aubusson, 15 Jack de Belin, 16 Aiden Tolman, 17 Josh Jackson.

Shaun Fensom is overdue a representative jersey and was my first player picked, Mitchell Aubsson is one of the most versatile players in the league and will be the utility covering pretty much every position. A really strong forward pack will be pushing for Origin jerseys, while there is plenty of talent in the backline.

NRL.com's combined Country team

1 Jack Wighton
2 Akuila Uate
3 Jarrod Croker
4 Jack Bird
5 Michael Gordon
6 James Maloney
7 Jackson Hastings
8 Ryan James
9 Mitch Rein
10 Aiden Tolman
11 Tyson Frizell
12 Joel Thompson
13 Shaun Fensom

Interchange:
14 Jack de Belin
15 Paul Vaughan
16 Shannon Boyd
17 Dale Finucane

 

This article first appeared on NRL.com