Editorial: Aaron Woods and Origin 2

The Aaron Woods Origin Dilemma

As we are now all aware, James Tamou is unable to play for New South Wales in Origin II, in just under two week’s time. We won’t talk about the incident here to any measure. However with the big prop unavailable to play, it presents our favourite young Prop Aaron Woods with perhaps his best shot at playing State of Origin to date.

Before proceeding, I would like to point out that just like anyone else, I would love to see him there. I feel like he does deserve it – but the selectors don’t always see things the way we do as fans. So let’s take a look at the merits of picking Woods for Origin II without striped glasses on and see just whether or not he is a chance.

Woods the Workhorse

As Wests Tigers fans, we all know how involved Woods is, and just how crucial he is to our team. But just in case you’re not stats minded, here’s a refresher for you. In 2013, Woods averages 139 Metres, 17 Hit Ups, and 39 Tackles a game, which means he out performs his next closest performer, none other than Robbie Farah both Hit Ups and Average Metres. He’s only 27 behind on total tackles too.

It’s my personal belief that Sticky didn’t pick Woods for Origin last year for two reasons. The first is understandable, and I am truly aware the second I may cop criticism for. Despite performing consistently for the whole 2012 season, he was still a relatively inexperienced Prop at First Grade Level. Before 2012 he had played less than 30 first grade games. Origin is another level up, and perhaps Sticky was concerned of ‘too much, too soon’. The second point is a potential lack of mongrel. I know Woods to be passionate, but I personally don’t feel like he is on the same aggression level as some current NSW players. Gallen, Bird, Tamou, Glenn Stewart, Watmough etc.

The experience issue is not there this year. Whether or not Laurie is looking for the same things in his players as Sticky did is unknown to me. But I’ll let you all mull over the points raised.

The Likely Outcomes

In my mind, there are four likely outcomes of Daley’s selection dilemma. I’ve listed them below in my personal order of likelihood. Disagree with them? Leave a comment on the Facebook Post. I’d love to hear your opinion. Below this, I will provide my justifications

1.      Woods gets picked to start. Fifita stays on the bench.

2.      Gallen plays Prop for the full 80 to bring a Tariq Sims/Tony Williams/player to the fold.

3.      Tolman gets picked. Fifita stays benched.

4.      Tim Mannah or Willie Mason gets picked.

The Competition

So, you’d be silly to state that Woods has no competition for the final spot in the 17. However I won’t leave you high and dry! Let’s get stuck into my justification for the other outcomes. Aiden Tolman has literally a handful more hit ups than Woods, but less average tackles, and around 10 metres per game. Tolman was unlucky not to play Origin in 2011, when he was in career best form and prior to his injury run. He’s a very dependable player, and I feel like he could perhaps fit Daley’s plans from an experience perspective. But to me he does lack the oomph that Woods provides.

Gallen amazed us all in 2012 with his 80 minute Front Row efforts in Origin. However he does not seem quite as fit in 2013. He is mostly playing 80 minutes at club level, but isn’t consistently doing so, and I’m not entirely convinced he could manage a full 80 this time around. He actually only played 50 minutes in Origin I to my surprise. NSW have tried the ‘fully mobile pack’ plan before and it hasn’t worked. So to win, a Prop needs to be picked.

I mentioned Willie Mason and Tim Mannah because they both have Origin experience. Mason is a great Origin style player, and has been one of my personal favourites over the years. Mannah is still performing solidly for the Eels, however is some 38 metres and 9 tackles per game behind Woods. Sure, these guys have the experience, but to me, their day at Origin level is done. Daley moving to pick Sutton and Reynolds as cover for Gidley illustrated to me fairly quickly that he is keen to think about the next generation of player for NSW.

I’ve not talked about Tim Grant, who could also have been in the mix, however with Tim’s broken hand, he isn’t a factor to discuss, and plus, I think this article is long enough!

So I hope you’ve enjoyed my analysis. For what it’s worth, I think Woods will be picked. I’ve opted for Fifita to stay on the bench as I think he suits the Impact role to a tee. He’s so aggressive and such a good change when the QLD props are starting to wear down. It’s where he has been best for Cronulla, and will continue to be in Origin.

I’ll either be made to look like genius or fool in a few days time, but either way,