Selwyn Cobbo, flying his way into the Maroons squad for Origin I
So we’re on to the first of the two Origin-afflicted rounds of the season, and by the time this round is done on Sunday ahead of Origin I on Wednesday, we’ll have gone through exactly 100 matches of the Premiership season, but of course, the last 12 rounds of the season won’t feature the Voice of Rugby League Ray Warren, who has now formally retired after a 55 year career that started in Young back in the days when Harold Holt kept his head above water.
Among Rabs’ greatest hits, I think it’s worth noting that Roy Bing composed a song called ‘Rabs’, featuring the commentary of the man himself… it was the greatest musical performance by an Australian sporting commentator since Les Murray performed the lyrics for ‘Zinedine Zidane’:
Ya know, one day when I’ve got even less free time on my hands, I’d like to go through the statistics of these Origin bye rounds and see what the records are of teams who had more players out through Origin, versus the teams who had ‘fewer’ players out.
Smart money says the teams with fewer players out will have a favourable record, but who actually knows until we find out.
Progressive Score: 65/96 (67.7%)
All picks are underlined
Byes: Brisbane, St George-Illawarra, Parramatta, Newcastle, South Sydney, Cronulla, Melbourne, Wests Tigers
Gold Coast Titans (14th) vs North Queensland Cowboys (3rd) at Cbus Super Stadium, Thursday 7:50pm AEST
The Southerners against the Northerners in an Origin-afflicted game (Yes, AFFLICTED, not AFFECTED) with the Cowboys playing without Valentine Holmes, Reuben Cotter, Jeremiah Nanai and Tom Dearden, while the Titans are only missing Tino Fa’asuamealeaui, and David Fifta is missing through injury, although he wouldn’t have been picked anyway due to a severe drop in form this season, which has been a good metaphor for the 2022 Titans after coming within 2 metres of winning a final last season.
It’s amazing to think that this time last year the Titans had AJ Brimson, Fifita, Tino and Moeaki Fotuaika in Maroons camp, and now with their form so far down the toilet that they’re coughing up 20 point leads to their biggest rivals, only Tino can crack it for a fat with Billy Slater, probably because they both played for the Storm.
Anyway, despite not scoring a point against Penrith, I’ll take the Cowboys to win off the back of their defence, simply because the Titans look very ordinary, and the strains of the Skatt Bros, the Canadian Village People, will bellow out from Robina Stadium in celebration of the Cowboy men, who are going to love you as hard as they can can:
And now that I’ve written all that, just watch the Titans have a field day.
Penrith Panthers (1st) vs Canterbury Bulldogs (16th) at Panthers Stadium, Friday 7:55pm AEST
First plays last on Friday night, and as to be expected with their superb form, the Panthers have had the most Origin selections of any NRL team, with 6 players in the New South Wales team – Nathan Cleary, Jarome Luai, Brian To’o, Stephen Crichton, Liam Martin and Isaah Yeo – While the Bulldogs have none, mainly because Josh Addo-Carr was found guilty of associating with the Bulldogs, which cost him his spot in the Blues backline.
Yep, absolutely nothing to do with height as Brad Fittler claimed when he picked Daniel Tupou over Foxx, it’s because Foxx willingly moved to the worst thing to hit rugby league since the 2016 Knights for a bit of extra cash, despite his form not really dipping that badly, it’s just the talent around him is non-existent.
Of course, the loss of both first choice halves leaves the Panthers playing without a brain, which is somewhat fortunate because they’re playing a team famously devoid of brains, although that came back to bite them on the arse this time last year when they played Wests without their Origin players, who wound up winning 26-6 in Penrith’s first defeat of the year.
So the Panthers will help us answer the age-old debate… can a NSW Cup team defeat a NSW Cup team posing as a First Grade team?
Probably yes, and the Panthers will win a close game thanks to the pungent smell of Sex Panther, because 60% of the time, it works every time:
Manly Sea Eagles (11th) vs New Zealand Warriors (12th) at 4 Pines Park/Brookvale Oval, Saturday 7:35pm AEST
No Tommy Turbo, No DCE, but other than it’s basically Manly’s best available team (Which should tell you how poorly they’re going) against the dumpster fire that is the New Zealand Warriors, with both teams on course to suck harder than a new Dyson vacuum at Brooky on a Saturday night.
What a way to live.
Needless to say this is a big 50/50 game, because Manly come in off a hat-trick of defeats that have pretty much ended their miniscule pickle-sized hopes of another Top 4 finish, and the Warriors have lost four on the bounce, but to anyone attending the game, I warn you, this will be like the Hotel California….
YOU CAN CHECK OUT ANY TIME YOU LIKE, BUT YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE.
Canberra Raiders (10th) vs Sydney Roosters (6th) at GIO Stadium, Sunday 4:05pm AEST
Compare the pair:
Obviously after the events of 2019, Corey Horsburgh heard the genuine 6 More call on Sunday and said to himself, “We ain’t falling for that crap again!” and kicked the ball straight to the Eels, who went 90 metres the other way and scored.
Once again, that proves why forwards usually get life bans from kicking the ball.
So in the final game of the shortened round, the 2019 Grand Final rematch is the cream of the crop when it comes to games being harder to pick than a broken nose, because on the Origin selection front the Raiders don’t have their two studs in Jack Wighton and Josh Papalii, and the Roosters don’t have captain James Tedesco, plus Daniel Tupou and Lindsay Collins, which evens up both teams big time, especially with Tedesco going nuts at Shark Park on Saturday night and winning the game by Half Time.
When you pack the game down, the Raiders have got the weather on their side, which ultimately made stuff all difference last week when Parramatta came to town, but losing Wighton and Papalii to Origin duty might just hurt the Raiders more than the Roosters will be hurt losing Tedesco, Tupou and Collins, simply because Easts have still got Luke Keary and Sam Walker in the halves, and Joseph Manu is as good a replacement fullback as you can get.
So with no thought at all, Roosters in a Chicken Fight.
And FootyTips are making us tip Origin I as part of the round, so for the record, I’ll take New South Wales, purely and simply because it’s at the Olympic Stadium.
Seriously, Queensland haven’t won there since 2017, in the game when Johnathan Thurston kicked the winning conversion with a busted shoulder, and never played for the Maroons again.