2017 Under-20 Origin preview
Queensland U20 v New South Wales U20
Wednesday May 31, Suncorp Stadium, 5:15pm (local time)
Streaming LIVE on QRL.com.au and NSWRL.com.au
The best under-20s players from Queensland and New South Wales will once again battle for junior Origin supremacy, in an intriguing curtain raiser to Wednesday’s Origin I. Winless in Under-20 Origin games since the concept’s inception in 2012, the junior Maroons face a tough task in getting that elusive win as they take on a very strong New South Wales outfit.
Head to Head
Since 2012, the sides have met five times, with the baby Blues taking out all five encounters. For a full list of these games, with team lists and scorers, click HERE.
2014 New South Wales 30 – 8 Queensland, Sportingbet Stadium
2015 New South Wales 32 – 16 Queensland, Suncorp Stadium
2016 New South Wales 36 – 22, Queensland, ANZ Stadium
While Queensland have forged an impressive dynasty in senior Origin over the past 10 years, in the under-20 ranks it’s been New South Wales doing much the same. Undefeated since 2012, the Blues’ will be looking for their sixth straight victory this Wednesday. In fact, they haven’t really been troubled by the Maroons during the streak. Only in 2012, the very first under-20 Origin game, was it even close. The Blues ran out 18-14 winners’ in what was probably the best junior Origin game played so far.
Last Time They Met
2012 may have been the closest game so far but last year’s is probably the next best, despite the scoreline. New South Wales would win 36-22 but Queensland put up a strong fight, scoring five tries to the Blues’ six. It was also the first game in which the Maroons scored 20 or more points. Both sides will welcome back three players each from that game (man of the match Curtis Scott, Reuben Garrick and Nat Butcher for New South Wales, and Jaydn Su’A, Brodie Croft and Gehamat Shibasaki for Queensland).
A whopping 11 players from the Junior Kangaroos’ side who defeated the Junior Kiwis earlier this month will line up for the Blues’ on Wednesday night. New South Wales’ will welcome the chemistry and combinations that may have formed during their time in camp. On the other side of the state line, three of the Queensland-eligible players from that team will play for the Maroons, including Junior Roos’ captain Brodie Croft.
Youth v Senior Experience
When it comes to NRL experience, both sides have a combined total of six NRL games. While the Maroons’ boast a combined 158 NYC games in 2017 to the Blues’ 104, keep in mind that five New South Wales’ players have spent the season up a grade, while several others have moved between NYC and NSW Cup throughout the year.
Like Father, Like Son
In 2014, Roosters’ half Lachlan Lam, son of Maroons’ great Adrian, became the first player to represent their state under the new “father-son” rule when he ran out for Queensland under-16. On Wednesday, Tristan Sailor, son of Wendell, will join him if he makes the final 17 for the Maroons. A Brisbane-born, Wollongong junior, Sailor (like Lam) would be only eligible for the Blues if not for the new rule.
On the back of their best NYC start in years, the Gold Coast Titans’ will be heavily represented in the Queensland side, with five players selected. This might not seem like a big deal to some, but the Titans only have had three Maroons’ under-20 Origin selections since 2012. Two of those came in the same game in 2015, so they’ll more than double their selections on Wednesday night.
The most heavily represented team in the Blues’ side is the St George Illawarra Dragons, who send four players into camp, three of whom were Junior Kangaroos earlier this month. Hooker Reece Robson scored a double in that game, while prop Blake Lawrie was dominant in the pack. Five-eighth Jai Field also scored in the Junior Test and has played 3 NRL games in 2017.
Keep An Eye On…
The two work horse forwards from each state, Patrick Carrigan (Queensland) and Nat Butcher (New South Wales).
Recently returning from injury, Butcher was arguably the best forward in the NYC in 2016, averaging 188.6 metres and 43.7 tackles per game. In Round 11, his third game back, he ran for 218 metres, made 21 tackles and scored a try off the bench in the Roosters’ 44-14 win over the Bulldogs.
Much like Butcher, Carrigan is the engine in the Broncos’ forward pack. The lock, who has also returned from a recent injury, is averaging 166.4 metres, 30.9 tackles and 4 tackle breaks a game so far in 2017. His 166.4 metres per game are the most of any forward currently in the NYC.