Question of loyalty for NSW Origin halves

If NSW coach Laurie Daley does opt to remain loyal to his incumbent halves Trent Hodkinson and Josh Reynolds it will be a first since the Blues’ last period of State of Origin dominance.

No Blues halves have played more than three matches alongside one another since Brett Kimmorley and Brad Fittler played five games together in 2000 and 2001.

NSW smashed Queensland 3-0 in 2000, with Fittler and Kimmorley playing all three games during a period in which the Maroons won just one series in seven years. That Queensland victory came in 2001, when Fittler and Kimmorley played together in Games I and III, with drawn series in 1999 and 2002 before NSW recorded a hat-trick of victories in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

That was the last time NSW held such dominance in the Origin arena, before Queensland won an unprecedented eight straight series.

That run was halted by a Blues side led by Canterbury halfback Hodkinson and five-eighth Reynolds last season with the duo featuring in all three fixtures.

If they are chosen for Origin I in Sydney on May 27 they will become the first Blues playmakers since Kimmorley and Fittler to play four successive games together.

Since 2000 NSW have used 25 halves combinations to Queensland’s 13, and since 2003 the Blues have used 22 combinations and the Maroons just eight.

Injury has of course played its part in forcing some selction changes, but so has a lack of faith and a lack of cohesion.

However NSW have retained the same halves partnership for each of the three Origin games in the last four years, but they were changed year after year as the series losses mounted.

Sunday’s City-Country fixture at Wagga Wagga has been billed as a battle between Reynolds and NSW’s 2013 five-eighth James Maloney for the Blues No.6 jersey in 2015.

But Daley has indicated he is keen to show faith in the same Blues players who got the job done last year as NSW chase back-to-back Origin titles for the first time since 2005. As such Reynolds has the inside running, despite his indifferent form so far in 2015.

City coach and NSW assistant Brad Fittler says the annual representative fixture will give Reynolds the chance to find form.

“It is most probaably pretty stressful what has been going on at Canterbury at the moment, a lot of blokes have been suspendend and injured they haven’t been getting results.” Fittler said.

“Hopefully he will just come here and enjoy the week and not worry about footy so much and then get out there and have a good old crack on Sunday.”



Season NSW’s halves QLD’s halves Series Result

2003 Timmins/Johns Ikin/Berrigan NSW 2-1

2004 Timmins/Gower/Fittler/Finch/Barrett Flannery/Prince/Lockyer NSW 2-1

2005 Barrett/Kimmorley/Anasta/Johns Lockyer/Thurston/ NSW 2-1

2006 Anasta/Finch/Gasnier/Gower Lockyer/Thurston QLD 2-1

2007 Anasta/Mullen/Kimmorley/Bird Lockyer/Thurston QLD 2-1

2008 Bird/Wallace/Anasta/Pearce Hunt/Thurston/Prince QLD 2-1

2009 Campese/Wallace/Barrett Lockyer/Thurston QLD 2-1

2010 Lyon/Kimmorley/Barrett/Pearce Lockyer/Thurston QLD 3-0

2011 Soward/Pearce Lockyer/Thurston QLD 2-1

2012 Carney/Pearce Thurston/Cronk QLD 2-1

2013 Maloney/Pearce Thurston/Cronk QLD 2-1

2014 Reynolds/Hodkinson Thurston/Cronk/Cherry-Evans NSW 2-1

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