There’s been a common theme in selection dilemmas faced by both camps ahead of the 2017 Holden State of Origin series – and, as witnessed with both of today’s team announcements, each state handled their headache very differently.
Two tried-and-tested fullbacks who will be among the best their state has ever seen; two incumbent challengers at varying stages of their careers. For the VB Blues, it was Jarryd Hayne and James Tedesco, while their Queensland counterparts had to contend with both Billy Slater and Darius Boyd.
Time would tell that the Maroons would persist with Boyd at fullback and opt not to select Slater at all, with coach Kevin Walters making “a really tough decision” not to play the Melbourne Storm legend on the wing instead. The VB Blues, meanwhile, kept Tedesco in the no.1 jersey he occupied in Origin III last year, recalling Hayne to the centres after some strong form there for the Gold Coast Titans.
Tedesco identified Hayne as the player he was most looking forward to playing with.
“I haven’t played with him before and obviously he’s a superstar,” Tedesco tells NSWRL.com.au. “I’m looking forward to working with him and hopefully scoring some tries with him.
“If he’s going to be outside me it’s going to be a good option for me to hit when nothing’s on.
“We can create something and break the line, so hopefully us working together will create some damage against the Queenslanders.”
The prospect of two genuine superstars working together is a mouth-watering one for NSW VB Blues fans – and Tedesco expected the Maroons to similarly name both their class fullbacks in their 17. Asked before the Queensland team announcement this afternoon, he picked Slater as the most dangerous man in their likely side.
“If they’re picking Slater, he’s obviously come back and is in some great form for Melbourne,” Tedesco explains. “He hasn’t lost anything since he’s been out of the game (with a shoulder injury).
“I’d probably pick Slater and have Boyd on the wing to be honest; they’re both pretty quality fullbacks though.
“Either way they’re both going to be dangerous.”
In reality, the Maroons have opted against picking the in-form Slater with 2016 wingers Corey Oates and Dane Gagai keeping their places. Despite the absence of the 27-time Queensland veteran, Tedesco knows a maiden Origin game at Suncorp Stadium will pose a significant challenge.
“I played at Suncorp last Friday so I got a bit of a taste there of the Queensland vibe – obviously it’s much different with how intimidating it is up there,” Tedesco adds. “I just want to get up there and play some footy and learn to hold that Queensland noise out.
“It was good to get that debut jersey and get a win (in Game Three last year) and I’ll take a lot of confidence from that game. It’s going to be different up in Queensland for the first time, but I’m looking forward to that challenge.”
A key part of the strongest-possible side named by coach Laurie Daley, Tedesco hopes to set Suncorp Stadium alight when the series kicks off on 31 May.