State of Origin teams: Teig Wilton, Ryan Matterson, Reuben Cotter all have selection claims

State of Origin coaches Brad Fittler and Billy Slater could be about to shock every footy fan by picking one of these surprise packets.

Premiership-winner and NSW Origin forward Dale Finucane has won enough big games to know a serious footballer when he sees one.

Which is why his rugby league insight is always worth sitting down for.

Finucane has his own burning ambition to pull on the sky blue of NSW for a sixth time in the upcoming State of Origin series.

But typical of his unselfish character trait, the hard-nosed forward has shone a light on a younger teammate that he believes Blues coach Brad Fittler should consider.

As a solution for the anticipated absence of edge forward Cameron Murray for the Blues in game one, Finucane has boldly tipped 22 year-old Cronulla backrower Teig Wilton to emerge as a NSW Origin bolter.

The call will shock fans as Wilton, after just 28 games, flying under the radar of his bigger name teammates at Cronulla.

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Teig Wilton’s Origin promotion would cap a meteoric rise were it to occur. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
Teig Wilton’s Origin promotion would cap a meteoric rise were it to occur. Picture: Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

But like Finucane, Fittler knows the fearless backrower well.

Wilton is a former NSW under 20s captain and was coached by Fittler in the NSW under 18’s.

Seemingly, State of Origin is the Narooma Devils junior‘s natural next step.

Ahead of our assessment of the bolters that could emerge for both NSW and Queensland, Finucane nominated Wilton.

“It’s funny, because it’s actually something I thought about the other day about Teig as a potential Origin bolter,’’ Finucane said.

“He flies under the radar but he just does everything to the second.

“A lot of supporters and people who don’t know the game that well may not see all the subtleties that he does so well in his game.

“But if you’re watching him, you look at how he supports, he’s so genuine with all his support.

“He really frees up a lot of space for our outside backs, just based on the intent in his runs.

“He gets through so much work for us as well.

“He’s so reliable in defence and protects our halves. He’s so reliable in defence and is in everything.

“I certainly think he wouldn’t look out of place for NSW.’’

BLUES BOLTERS

RYAN MATTERSON

Yet to pull on the Blues jersey, but has come tantalising close as the 18th man in 2019.

Fittler is a clear fan. Matterson brings combinations and an understanding of elite success having spent several seasons at powerful clubs, the Roosters and Eels, where a large contingent of Blues will come from. Also provides options for Fittler with the ability to play in the middle of the field or out on an edge.

Ryan Matterson of the Parramatta Eels has gone close to Origin selection and is a flexible forward. Picture: NRL Imagery
Ryan Matterson of the Parramatta Eels has gone close to Origin selection and is a flexible forward. Picture: NRL Imagery

HAUMOLE OLAKAU’ATU

Queensland and Manly captain Daly Cherry-Evans once dubbed Olakau’atu “the scariest man in rugby league.’’ A member of Fittler’s emerging Blues squad in November last year, the Sea Eagles backrower has been on the NSW Origin radar for some time. As damaging and powerful as they come – imagine Jarome Luai putting him through space.

KEAON KOLOAMATANGI

The South Sydney tearaway is under serious consideration by Fittler and his NSW advisor Greg Alexander. Koloamatangi has the jump on others having been rushed into the Blues squad a reserve prior to Origin I last year. Nothing he did while in camp has changed the opinion of Fittler that the Rabbitohs brute won’t be ready if required.

MAROONS BOLTERS

REUBEN COTTER

Queensland coach Billy Slater identified the tough Cowboys forward as an Origin prospect before a ball was kicked this season. And ever since, Cotter’s stocks have only risen.

Out of the mould of Dallas Johnson, Cotter, 23, is the hardworking player Slater wants in his side.

Reuben Cotter of the Cowboys can play prop, lock or hooker. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
Reuben Cotter of the Cowboys can play prop, lock or hooker. Picture: Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

JEREMIAH NANAI

The 19-year-old sensation is putting the most pressure on David Fifita, who is struggling to hold his position in the Maroons line-up. There’s always a spot in Origin for an X-factor player on the interchange bench and Nanai is firming to take that role. Has touches of former Maroons forward Ben Te’o about him with his robust nature and ability to offer a point of difference with his speed, size and offload.

MURRAY TAULAGI

Another one from the Cowboys, this time a winger. May need an injury in the Maroons backline to get his start but don’t underestimate how close he is to featuring. Powerful and athletic, Taulagi could pip Corey Oates for a Maroons wing spot, with a big month of football. The smart spies view Taulagi as a future centre where with his rugby union background, his sharp hole-running and catch-pass ability, will really come to the fore.


Originally published as State of Origin teams: Teig Wilton, Ryan Matterson, Reuben Cotter all have selection claims

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