Mal Meninga's Game One guide.
Mal Meninga's Game One guide.

‘The greatest challenge of his career’: Mal’s Game I guide

FROM the man who can ignite Queensland's State of Origin challenge to the Maroons' nemesis, MAL MENINGA gives player-by-player breakdown of Game One.

Fullback: Kalyn Ponga

Age: 21

Height: 184cm

Weight: 92kg

Origins: 1

Origin tries: 0

Gets his chance at fullback following the retirement of Billy Slater and I'm really excited about watching him make the custodian role his own. One of Queensland most dangerous runners of the ball.

 

Kalyn Ponga can light the fire for Queensland. Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Kalyn Ponga can light the fire for Queensland. Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

 

Winger: Corey Oates

Age: 24

Height: 192cm

Weight: 105kg

Origins: 5

Origin tries: 2

Big, strong, fast and must get the sets off to a good start, which he does at club level. Important part of the kick return team but also dangerous at the other end of the field when in sight of the tryline.

Centre: Michael Morgan

Age: 27

Height: 185cm

Weight: 94kg

Origins: 9

Origin tries: 1

Competitive, reliable and loves winning. Normally plays in the halves but will handle the centres well. Quick with good defensive skills and talks well. An asset to the side wherever he plays.

 

The rivalry between Chambers and Mitchell could be crucial. Image: Peter Wallis
The rivalry between Chambers and Mitchell could be crucial. Image: Peter Wallis

 

Centre: Will Chambers

Age: 30

Height: 190cm

Weight: 100kg

Origins: 10

Origin tries: 2

This will be one of the greatest challenges of his career against Latrell Mitchell, who is looking forward to the showdown in the centres. His battle with Mitchell will be one of the key clashes of the match and whoever wins that will go a long way towards winning the game

Winger: Dane Gagai

Age: 28

Height: 182cm

Weight: 92kg

Origins: 10

Origin tries: 9

Mr Reliable. Always gets the sets off to a great start, his ball running efforts are tremendous and has a quick play the ball. Always seems to rise to the occasion at Origin level.

 

Queensland‘s attack will swing on Munster’s plays. Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Queensland‘s attack will swing on Munster’s plays. Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

 

Five-eighth: Cameron Munster

Age: 24

Height: 185cm

Weight: 89kg

Origins: 4

Origin tries: 0

One of the key men for the Maroons. His combination with Daly Cherry-Evans will allow him to play his natural game, which is instinctive. The more time he has with the ball in his hands the better.

Halfback: Daly Cherry-Evans (c)

Age: 30

Height: 183cm

Weight: 85kg

Origins: 7

Origin tries: 1

Leads the team not only with the 'c' next to his name but with the game plan. His kicking game is going to be really important to the success of the team and his energy around the football will be crucial.

 

Arrow is just the sort of player Queensland need now. Image: Peter Wallis
Arrow is just the sort of player Queensland need now. Image: Peter Wallis

 

Prop: Jai Arrow

Age: 23

Height: 189cm

Weight: 101kg

Origins: 3

Origin tries: 0

Just has to keep doing what he does well week in, week out for the Titans. He is a strong, young buck who makes his meters and doesn't miss tackles. Tireless and tenacious.

Hooker: Ben Hunt

Age: 29

Height: 178cm

Weight: 87kg

Origins: 4

Origin tries: 0

Really excited about Hunt playing at No.9. He offers all the skills you want in a hooker. Want to see him running the footy as often as he can. His passing game is crucial.

 

Josh Papalii rarely puts a foot wrong. Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Josh Papalii rarely puts a foot wrong. Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

 

Prop: Josh Papalii

Age: 27

Height: 182cm

Weight: 112kg

Origins: 12

Origin tries: 1

Has a huge work ethic and a big motor. Makes metres and breaks tackles. One of the more experienced forwards in the Maroons pack and has to play like it.

Second-row: Felise Kaufusi

Age: 26

Height: 189cm

Weight: 109kg

Origins: 3

Origin tries: 0

Plays on the right edge for Melbourne but moves to the left edge, and can't let it disrupt his natural game. Defensively he is outstanding and great at running hard, strong lines in attack.

 

It’s a welcome return to Origin for the Queensland veteran. Image: Adam Head
It’s a welcome return to Origin for the Queensland veteran. Image: Adam Head

 

Second-row: Matt Gillett

Age: 30

Height: 186cm

Weight: 100kg

Origins: 18

Origin tries: 2

Welcome back Matt. The Maroons missed him last year, after he was sidelined with a broken neck. Such a great competitor, great leader and you know exactly what you are going to get. Does all the little things really well.

Lock: Josh McGuire

Age: 29

Height: 180cm

Weight: 104kg

Origins: 11

Origin tries: 0

The mindset of the whole team needs to be aggressive and Moose brings that. He has to do that without being silly. Concentrate on cleaning up through the middle defensively.

 

Mbye‘s Queensland’s shot has been a long time coming. Image: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt
Mbye‘s Queensland’s shot has been a long time coming. Image: AAP Image/Glenn Hunt

 

Interchange: Moses Mbye

Age: 25

Height: 180cm

Weight: 89kg

Origins: Debut

Origin tries: 0

Whatever role he ends up playing, he will do it well. Certainly has the ability and class. Deserves to be there.

Interchange: Joe Ofahengaue

Age: 23

Height: 190cm

Weight: 113kg

Origins: Debut

Origin tries: 0

Great motor and keep doing what he has been doing for the Broncos.

 

Napa capacity for damage will be hugely important. Image: Adam Head
Napa capacity for damage will be hugely important. Image: Adam Head

 

Interchange: Dylan Napa

Age: 26

Height: 198cm

Weight: 113kg

Origins: 5

Origin tries: 0

Big Dylan off the bench needs to bring something special. He is well know for his aggression but he needs to do more.

Interchange: David Fifita

Age: 19

Height: 186cm

Weight: 107kg

Origins: Debut

Origin tries: 0

Not quite sure where Dave will play, in the middle or on an edge but when he gets his opportunity he has to make sure he makes a difference.

 

James Tedesco was rated a chance to claim the player of the series award. Image: AAP Image/Darren England
James Tedesco was rated a chance to claim the player of the series award. Image: AAP Image/Darren England

 

NSW BLUES

Fullback: James Tedesco

Age: 26

Height: 184cm

Weight: 95kg

Origins: 7

Origin tries: 3

Queensland's nemesis. One of the real danger men in the Blues side. He is excellent with the ball in hand and potent off the ball. Leads the NRL in line breaks, tackle breaks and total metres.

Wing: Nick Cotric

Age: 20

Height: 185cm

Weight: 98kg

Origins: Debut

Origin tries: 0

One of the Blues' rookies but is big, strong and fast. Is good under the high ball and will be a danger if allowed room to move. When he gets the ball needs to be shut down quickly.

 

Mitchell can be a gamechanger for NSW. Image: Brett Costello
Mitchell can be a gamechanger for NSW. Image: Brett Costello

 

Centre: Latrell Mitchell

Age: 21

Height: 193cm

Weight: 102kg

Origins: 3

Origin tries: 2

Mitchell is the X-factor in the NSW team. The more ball the he gets with room to move, the better the chance the NSW side have of winning. Simple as that.

Centre: Josh Morris

Age: 32

Height: 182cm

Weight: 98kg

Origins: 15

Origin tries: 5

A quality player and a very reliable veteran. The oldest player in the team but has still got good speed. Great defensively. Players find it hard to get past him.

 

Everyone knows how dangerous Josh Addo-Carr is. Image: AAP Image/Joel Carrett
Everyone knows how dangerous Josh Addo-Carr is. Image: AAP Image/Joel Carrett

 

Wing: Josh Addo-Carr

Age: 23

Height: 183cm

Weight: 88kg

Origins: 3

Origin tries: 2

Another game-breaker on the Blues' left side. A speedster who can do anything if given space. Put on a bit of weight this year, which will make him an even more dangerous proposition.

Five-eighth: Cody Walker

Age: 29

Height: 179cm

Weight: 90kg

Origins: Debut

Origin tries: 0

First time in the Origin arena but has plenty of experience in big games, so will be interesting to see how he handles it. The form player in the NRL at the moment.

 

Cleary might be carrying the most pressure into this game. Image: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
Cleary might be carrying the most pressure into this game. Image: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

 

Halfback: Nathan Cleary

Age: 21

Height: 182cm

Weight: 92kg

Origins: 3

Origin tries: 0

Under pressure but he knows that. He will be calm and composed and all he needs to concentrate on is making his tackles and getting to his kicks. Must concentrate on the basics and get them right.

Prop: David Klemmer

Age: 25

Height: 198cm

Weight: 116kg

Origins: 12

Origin tries: 0

Big David is a metre-eater. He saps the energy of defensive lines with his post contact metres. Big mobile forward, who makes his tackles. Probably the form prop in the comp.

 

Cook has the capacity to leave Queensland in his wake. Image: Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images
Cook has the capacity to leave Queensland in his wake. Image: Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

 

Hooker: Damien Cook

Age: 27

Height: 180cm

Weight: 88kg

Origins: 3

Origin tries: 0

Danger man, who is always a constant threat out of dummy-half. Has got a few more strings to his bow this year, with a better passing game and his kicking game has improved.

Prop: Paul Vaughan

Age: 28

Height: 193cm

Weight: 110kg

Origins: 4

Origin tries: 0

Big, strong, fast front rower with great foot work. He is dangerous. For NSW halves to get on the front foot Klemmer and Vaughan are really important.

 

The Blues skipper is their coach on the field. Image: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts
The Blues skipper is their coach on the field. Image: AAP Image/Dan Himbrechts

 

Second-row: Boyd Cordner (c)

Age: 26

Height: 188cm

Weight: 102kg

Origins: 12

Origin tries: 2

Mr Consistency. The best captain and back rower in the game. Does everything right. Whether it is his defence of attack, he is always on the spot making the right decisions.

Second-row: Tyson Frizell

Age: 27

Height: 183cm

Weight: 108kg

Origins: 9

Origin tries: 2

A beast. Very good with the ball in hand, very hard to stop and the Blues will be looking to gain momentum off his runs. Fearless in attack and powerful in defence.

 

Trbojevic is one of those players made for Origin. Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images
Trbojevic is one of those players made for Origin. Image: Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

 

Lock: Jake Trbojevic

Age: 25

Height: 185cm

Weight: 107kg

Origins: 7

Origin tries: 0

One of my favourite players in the game. Everything he does in quality and he is so competitive. He is in a league of his own when it comes to defensive technique.

Interchange: Jack Wighton

Age: 26

Height: 189cm

Weight: 93kg

Origins: Debut

Origin tries: 0

Interesting selection on the bench. Can play a number of positions out wide and certainly in the halves. Also big enough to play in the backrow. Ideal player for Origin.

 

Broncos rookie Haas could be a breakout for NSW. Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Broncos rookie Haas could be a breakout for NSW. Image: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

 

Interchange: Payne Haas

Age: 19

Height: 194cm

Weight: 119kg

Origins: Debut

Origin tries: 0

Been playing really well at club level, making plenty of metres. Big step up for someone so young but looking forward to seeing how he handles the Cauldron.

Interchange: Cameron Murray

Age: 21

Height: 184cm

Weight: 90kg

Origins: Debut

Origin tries: 0

Typical player you want in Origin, good in attack and strong defence. Will be a dangerous player off the bench.

Interchange: Angus Crichton

Age: 23

Height: 187cm

Weight: 102kg

Origins: 3

Origin tries: 0

Very reliable and consistent. Great at doing his job and expect him to do it well for the Blues.