How your State would look if Origin still existed

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Ah, the good ol’ days. Ben Allan, Marcus Ashcroft, Tony McGuinness, John Longmire, Brett Allison, Simon Atkins and Paul Roos rock their respective Origin jumpers.

FIRST of all, apologies for the lack of action on The Hickey Stand recently.

Much like Fitzroy and Brisbane, we engaged in a significant merger over the past few weeks between a Victorian and a Queenslander – but instead of inheriting a rich history I snagged throw cushions and decorative soap.

And a pretty awesome wife.

With our honeymoon in Tasmania occurring at the exact moment that Tassie’s rivers decided to swell like a dislocated knee, we had a lot of time to drive around and look at the countryside.

It felt like home. Not because of the shitty weather. Not because of the rolling hills and green pasture. It was because of those eight white posts erected in just about every little town we passed through.

For those who haven’t driven south to north on the mainland, there’s a point about 1/3 of the way through New South Wales where the eight posts so familiar to every footy fan give way to those ridiculous crossbar posts.

The ovals turn into rectangles, the Carlton Draught signs turn into Tooheys New, then XXXX, and – as I learned too late on my first trip up here – you have to flick the channel over to 7Mate to see live footy.

It’s a bizarre place up here.

But one thing they do have right is State of Origin. It’s the jewel in the Rugby League crown. It’s brutal, it’s skilful, it’s spine-tingling and it manages to elicit the deepest of love and hate from both sides of the border.

It makes you burn for Origin to return to Aussie Rules.

Of course it wouldn’t work. In the AFL your God is your club. In Rugby League your God is your state. In Rugby Union your God is your country. And in soccer you have an Ancient Greek-styled Polytheism where your Gods take form in many leagues and tournaments.

Our worship of club success stops us from having nice things.

But it doesn’t stop us from speculating. So here are the State of Origin of teams and what they might look like if Origin returned today.

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Patrick Dangerfield wearing the almost offensive inverse Big V.

VICTORIA COUNTRY

B: Brett Deledio — Scott Thompson — James Frawley

HB: Luke Hodge (c) — Tom McDonald — Jimmy Bartel

C: Scott Pendlebury — Patrick Dangerfield — Travis Boak

HF: Dustin Martin — Jarrad Waite — Steele Sidebottom

F: Steve Johnson — Jeremy Cameron — Jake Stringer

R: Shane Mumford — Joel Selwood (vc) — Gary Ablett

Int: Jarryd Roughead — Brendon Goddard — Jack Steven — Ollie Wines

Emergencies: Taylor Adams, Jack Crisp, Ben Cunnington, Ed Curnow, Luke Dahlhaus, Nick Dal Santo, Sam Docherty, Josh Jenkins, Jordan Lewis, Zach Merrett, David Mundy, Robert Murphy, Drew Petrie, Jasper Pittard, Ben Reid, Tom Rockliff, Koby Stevens, Easton Wood, Jack Ziebell

>>> SO we’ve gone for a slightly different take on the traditional State of Origin and followed the under-18’s system instead.

Mainly because a united Victoria would be too damn good for just about everyone else.

Vic Country alone has a midfield that in Round 12 notched 172 touches between them (with Pendlebury still to play).

Any one of those emergencies could be brought into the team and do just as good a job as those named. Feel free to comment with the changes you’d make to the team.<<<

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Brent Harvey – the last remaining player who has legitimately represented a State of Origin team (not counting the circus in the picture where Victoria played the rest of Australia in 2008).

VICTORIA CITY

B: Bachar Houli — Josh Gibson — Heath Shaw

HB: Kade Simpson — Daniel Talia — Trent Cotchin

C: David Zaharakis — Sam Mitchell (vc) — Luke Parker

HF: Marcus Bontempelli — Tom Lynch — Robbie Gray

F: Tom Lynch — Jack Gunston — Brent Harvey (c)

R: Todd Goldstein — Josh Kennedy — Dan Hannebery

Int: Max Gawn — Rory Sloane — Callan Ward — Adam Treloar

Emergencies: Mark Blicavs, Matthew Boyd, Brandon Ellis, Andrew Gaff, Cam Guthrie, Lachie Hunter, Rory Laird, Tom Liberatore, Stefan Martin, Tom Mitchell, Leigh Montagna, Marc Murphy, Dion Prestia, Tom Scully, Dylan Shiel, Liam Shiels, Luke Shuey, Jack Viney, Mitch Wallis
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>>> MAYBE not quite as good as Vic Country, but still good enough to beat the other teams.
Vic City breeds the talented big men. Goldstein and Gawn are the two best ruckmen in the competition, while Stefan Martin is arguably third (although Mumford probably has something to say about that).
Brent Harvey also gets a nod, adding to his State of Origin game in 1999 – the last competitive AFL Origin game that meant something (Victoria beat South Australia by 54 points).<<<
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BONUS ALL-VICTORIAN TEAM

B: James Frawley — Josh Gibson — Heath Shaw

HB: Luke Hodge — Tom McDonald — Jimmy Bartel

C: Scott Pendlebury — Patrick Dangerfield — Luke Parker

HF: Marcus Bontempelli — Tom Lynch — Dustin Martin

F: Jake Stringer — Jeremy Cameron — Gary Ablett

R: Todd Goldstein — Joel Selwood — Dan Hannebery

Int: Max Gawn — Rory Sloane — Sam Mitchell — David Zaharakis

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Gold Coast’s Jack Martin and Melbourne’s Jesse Hogan in the WA representative guernseys.

WESTERN AUSTRALIA

B: Jeremy McGovern — Alex Rance — Elliot Yeo

HB: Jason Johannisen — Harry Taylor (vc) — Daniel Rich

C: Nat Fyfe (c) — Matt Priddis — Stephen Coniglio

HF: Mark LeCras — Lance Franklin — Stephen Hill

F: Eddie Betts — Josh Kennedy — Jesse Hogan

R: Nic Naitanui — Mitch Duncan — Patrick Cripps

Int: Aaron Sandilands — Daniel Wells — Rhys Palmer — Alex Fasolo

Emergencies: Hayden Ballantyne, Jack Darling, Michael Johnson, Shane Kersten, Jack Martin, Chris Masten, Chris Mayne, Ben Stratton, Michael Walters
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>>> IT’S all about the future in Western Australia.
While that spine is probably the best of all the teams, it’s the young players that WA has provided the league recently that makes them really exciting.
Names like Jesse Hogan, Stephen Coniglio, Patrick Cripps and Jack Martin are likely to become household names in the next decade.
Traditionally third for talent behind Victoria and South Australia, the Sandgropers have leapfrogged the Croweaters comfortably. <<<
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Port Adelaide’s Chad Wingard leads the South Australians out in his junior years.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA

B: Shaun Burgoyne — Phil Davis — Corey Enright

HB: Brodie Smith — Heath Grundy — Shannon Hurn

C: Ryan Griffen (vc) — Scott Thompson — Bryce Gibbs

HF: Paul Puopolo — Matthew Pavlich (c) — Lachie Neale

F: Chad Wingard — Justin Westhoff — Daniel Menzel

R: Sam Jacobs — Brad Ebert — Bernie Vince

Int: Brodie Grundy — Jared Polec — Hamish Hartlett — Danyle Pearce

Emergencies: Luke Brown, Sam Fisher, Levi Greenwood, Andrew Mackie, Lindsay Thomas
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>>> WHILE the West Australians have a bunch of talented kids coming through, South Australia is all about the 30+ veterans.
No doubt there’s talent in the team, but it’s a shadow of the good old days when blokes like Stephen Kernahan, Craig Bradley, Mark Ricciuto and Darren Jarman were playing. <<<
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Swans young gun Isaac Heeney playing for NSW-ACT.

NEW SOUTH WALES

B: Dane Rampe — Sam Rowe — Michael Hartley

HB: Matt Suckling — Logan Austin — Harry Cunningham

C: Isaac Smith — Anthony Miles — Will Langford

HF: Isaac Heeney — Taylor Walker (c) — Ben McGlynn

F: Luke Breust —  Tom Hawkins — Josh Bruce

R: Jarrod Witts —  Jarrad McVeigh (vc) — Kieran Jack

Int: Sam Lloyd —  Callum Mills — Jacob Hopper — Craig Bird

Emergencies: Jake Barrett, Ryan Davis, Jack Hiscox, Dougal Howard, Brandon Jack, Max King, Lachlan Langford, Sam Naismith, Daniel Robinson, Dean Terlich, Jason Tutt, Aaron Vandenberg, Mark Whiley
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>>> NOW we’re into the second-tier teams and the reason why State of Origin didn’t survive.
These teams weren’t good enough to beat the big three (with the occasional exception), but The Allies concept was one that supporters from these states couldn’t get behind. There was no real identity, no passion.
The New South Wales team of today is good enough to cause an upset.
Populated mostly with players from the northern side of the Murray, there’s still a decent spread of Sydney-siders who bucked the NRL trend to try their hand at our game. >>>
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Brisbane’s Daniel Merrett and Dayne Beams would get the nod for the Queenslanders – if Beams was ever fit enough to play.

QUEENSLAND

B: Sam Gilbert — Daniel Merrett — Clay Cameron

HB: Courtenay Dempsey — Rory Thompson — Lee Spurr

C: Dayne Beams — David Armitage — Adam Oxley

HF: Jarrod Harbrow — Nick Riewoldt (c) — Josh Smith

F: Lachie Weller — Charlie Dixon — Kurt Tippett

R: Tom Hickey — Tom Bell — Dayne Zorko (vc)

Int: Zac Smith — Claye Beams — Alex Sexton — Josh Wagner

Emergencies: Aliir Aliir, Harris Andrews, Liam Dawson, Jono Freeman, Shaun Hampson, Ben Keays, Jake Spencer, Joel Tippett, Jesse White, Brendan Whitecross

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>>> LIKE New South Wales, the talent is there but it’s not quite up to the standard of the big three.

Populated with Queenslanders who wanted to come home (Beams, Bell, Harbrow) and Queenslanders who turned their backs on the Sunshine State (Dixon, Tippett), it’s a mix of exceptional talent and unfulfilled potential.

There’s a lot to like about the youth of Queensland, with guys like Josh Smith, Lachie Weller and Tom Hickey showing glimpses this season of what they might become. <<<

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Kade Kolodjashnij, seconds before the photographer asked “and how do you spell that?”

TASMANIA

B: Jake Kolodjashnij — Alex Pearce — Colin Garland

HB: Kade Kolodjashnij — Henry Schade — Jimmy Webster

C: Grant Birchall (vc) — Aaron Hall — Jesse Lonergan

HF: Eli Templeton — Jack Riewoldt (c) — Luke Russell

F: Josh Green — Liam Jones — Jeremy Howe

R: Ben Brown — Mitch Robinson — Mav Weller

Int: Ryan Harwood — Jackson Thurlow — Mackenzie Willis — Brady Grey

Emergencies: Ryan Gardner, Hugh Greenwood, Mitchell Hibberd, Kieran Lovell, Josh McGuiness, Tim Mohr, Toby Nankervis, Andrew Phillips, Josh Watts, Zac Webster
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>>> DEPTH is an issue in Tassie.
Their good players are really good, but it falls away pretty quickly after that.
Interesting to note Mav Weller in the Tasmanian team, while his brother Lachie is in the Queensland team. It’s not overly clear what the Origin rules were, with plenty of players in the past representing two states.
Players like Tom Hawkins (born and raised in Finley but represented Victoria at junior levels) and Sam Gilbert (raised in Tweed Heads, played for Tweed-Coolangatta, then played for Southport) would definitely complicate selection. <<<
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Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti playing for Northern Territory against Vic City’s Luke McDonald.

NORTHERN TERRITORY

B: Ryan Nyhuis — Steven May — Curtly Hampton

HB: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti — ??? — ???

C: Jake Long — Steven Motlop — Jed Anderson

HF: Daniel Rioli — ??? — Nakia Cockatoo

F: Jake Neade — ??? — Shaun Edwards

R: ??? — Cyril Rioli (c) — Mathew Stokes (vc)

Int: ??? — ??? — ??? — ???

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>>> OBVIOUSLY short on numbers at AFL level, the Top End would have to dive into lower level leagues to fill out the squad.

That doesn’t mean there’s a lack of talent around. McDonald-Tipungwuti has shown there’s plenty of quality players in the Territory if you look hard enough.

Recent history has also shown great players have joined the AFL from the Top End, before feeling unsettled with the dramatic change of scenery, heading home after a season or two.

Getting those players together for a one-off Origin series for the NT would be exciting – and they would cause an upset or two along the way. <<<

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BONUS ALLIES TEAM

B: Grant Birchall — Steven May — Pearce Hanley

HB: Jarrod Harbrow — Rory Thompson — Jarrad McVeigh

C: Dayne Beams — David Armitage —  Aaron Hall

HF: Steven Motlop — Nick Riewoldt — Luke Breust

F: Cyril Rioli — Taylor Walker — Jack Riewoldt

R: Tom Hickey — Dayne Zorko — Kieran Jack

Int: Tom Hawkins — Mitch Robinson — Anthony Miles — Jeremy Howe

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