A total of seven South Sydney Rabbitohs players are putting on a strong case for selection in Brad Fittler’s 17 for State of Origin II. The Penrith Panthers have been dominating recent NSW teams with six players from their team losing the opening game in Adelaide. The Panthers‘ players who played in the opening game are Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton, Jarome Luai, Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo, and Liam Martin. Additionally, Api Koroisau, Tevita Pangai jnr and 18th man Matt Burton have spent time at the foot of the mountains. With four losses in their last five games, the Blues will face pressure to make changes for game two in Brisbane.
The latest NSW loss will prompt pressure to change team members. In addition, the indifferent form of several other team members has increased the pressure on the Blues to consider making changes for the next game. Tom Trbojevic suffered from concussion in the opening match, and his participation in the next match is uncertain. Meanwhile, Latrell Mitchell is expected to recover from a calf complaint. Error-prone debuts by Hudson Young and Tevita Pangai jnr, and the minimal involvement of Nicho Hynes in the opener, further increase the selection quandary for Fittler.
The South Sydney Rabbitohs have six players – Mitchell, Cody Walker, Damien Cook, Tevita Tatola, Keaon Koloamatangi, and Campbell Graham – who are all in contention for State of Origin II. They have joined Rabbitohs‘ Cameron Murray, who has already made the squad. While Mitchell will be resting against the Titans due to a calf complaint, the remaining “Souths Seven” can make a strong case for their inclusion in the team.
Koloamatangi, firmly believes he is ready to step up, stating “If Freddy gives me a call, then 100 per cent, I’ll be ready.” Fellow Rabbitohs player and Tonga forward, Tatola, added, “I’ve been in first grade for a few years and if I did get the call, I’d love to take that opportunity.”
Among the South Sydney Rabbitohs‘ players who are in contention for the upcoming game are:
Latrell Mitchell: A player who missed the first match due to calf injury is expected to be fit for the second game. His inclusion in the team could make a significant improvement as Stephen Crichton may not match up to being Latrell Mitchell.
Damien Cook: He could feel aggrieved by not being picked for the first game of the series. A strong case could be made for both Cook and Koroisau to provide a one-two punch from dummy half.
Campbell Graham: An injury stopped him from playing in the first game, but he is now fit to face the Gold Coast. A strong performance may secure a Blues three-quarter spot.
Keaon Koloamatangi: This weekend marks his second game back from being sidelined for six weeks due to an ankle issue. His versatility in being a player who can operate in the middle or on an edge could be an asset to the team.
Cody Walker: He is in arguably career-best form and is better for his previous Origin experiences. His inclusion in the team may cause problems for the tired Maroons defenders in the final 10 minutes of the game.
Other names also being considered for the NSW Blues‘ 17 for the upcoming game include Stefano Utoikamanu, David Klemmer, Dale Finucane, Joseph Suaalii, Angus Crichton, Kotoni Staggs, Spencer Leniu, Haumole Olakau’atu, Daniel Saifiti, Jacob Saifiti, and Clint Gutherson.