THERE’S no greater stage for an NRL player than a crucial State of Origin clash.
There’s no higher honour than a man-of-the-match award in these games.
Only the very best players rise above the pack in these matches and that’s why finding the right player to bet on can be so hard.
Queensland legend Wally Lewis holds the record for the most man-of-the-match awards in Origin games with eight. Fellow Queenslanders and modern day stars Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston have both won the award four times and are certainly capable of threatening Lewis’ record over the next few years.
The award is presented to the best player in the match according to the Australian selectors and betting agencies are offering outstanding odds for all 34 players.
Our NRL expert takes us through the odds for each player in both squads and tells you who is the best chance for glory.
Queensland player odds
Billy Slater – Melbourne Storm ($13.00) crownbet.com.au
Big question marks remain over the reliability of Slater’s shoulder, which would have also been a topic of discussion among the New South Wales’ coaching staff. Was as safe as a bank at the back in game one and the Blues halves will need to be more creative with the boot to trouble him.
Darius Boyd – Brisbane Broncos ($67.00) crownbet.com.au
Was very quiet in game one, however his try-scoring ability has always seen him form an integral part of the maroon’s side. Forms a great combination with Greg Inglis and is dangerous when close to the line.
Greg Inglis – South Sydney Rabbitohs ($15.00) luxbet.com.au
Received nowhere near the amount of ball he should’ve in game one. Inglis is far more dangerous at the back of the attacking line and many people have suggested he should shift to the wing and defuse kick returns.
Justin Hodges – Brisbane Broncos ($26.00) crownbet.com.au and luxbet.com.au
Had a great first origin game when he shut down Blues’ winger Daniel Tupou and made some crucial metres throughout the match. Always reliable, combining strong defence with nippy footwork.
Will Chambers – Melbourne Storm ($67.00) sportsbet.com.au
If Chambers repeats his first origin game form then these odds are too good to refuse. Was outstanding on the wing, making over 200 metres from his hit ups and troubled the blues’ defence all night.
Johnathan Thurston – North Queensland Cowboys ($7.00) crownbet.com.au
Thurston is always among the favourites to take out the man of the match award and Wednesday will be no different. He wasn’t the standout player in game one, but did his job with a solid kicking game and assisted Cronk with the overall direction of the side.
Daly-Cherry Evans – Manly Sea Eagles ($13.00) crownbet.com.au
Comes into this match with enormous pressure from fans and the media, with a big game required to fill the shoes of Cronk, who was brilliant in game one. Has the ability to lead the side around, however Thurston is expected to take over as the leader.
Matt Scott – North Queensland Cowboys ($21.00) crownbet.com.au
Never the standout player of the Queensland side, but always does his job and gets through a mountain of work.
Cameron Smith – Melbourne Storm ($12.00) luxbet.com.au
Already being labelled a future immortal, Smith’s dummy-half attacking raids and leadership qualities have been the backbone of Queensland’s origin dominance. Punters will get a superb return with luxbet.com.au at $12.00, with Smith aiming for his fifth origin man of the match award.
Nate Myles – Gold Coast Titans ($51.00) sportsbet.com.au
Wasn’t terrible in game one, but wasn’t noticed either. Usually gets through a decent workload, however will need to lift to be considered as the games’ best player.
Aiden Guerra – Sydney Roosters ($34.00) crownbet.com.au and sportsbet.com.au
Was terrific in defence for the Maroons and kept the Blues’ attack at bay. Will need to do something more spectacular to be any chance of being named man of the match.
Sam Thaiday – Brisbane Broncos ($23.00) crownbet.com.au and luxbet.com.au
Always delivers for his team and the speed of his play really helped the Maroons get on the front foot. Strong defender and metre-eater. Never far away from being named Queensland’s best.
Corey Parker – Brisbane Broncos ($13.00) sportsbet.com.au, crownbet.com.au and luxbet.com.au
If Thurston wasn’t in the side, Parker would be the number one goal kicker. Has a great strike rate and you wouldn’t find a better substitute for JT. Gets through a stack of work and is always reliable wherever he’s needed.
New South Wales player odds
Josh Dugan – St George Illawarra Dragons ($13.00) luxbet.com.au and sportsbet.com.au
Threatened the Queensland defence every time he touched the ball in Game 1. Was solid as a rock at the back of the field and is a huge chance of taking out the award with a repeat performance.
Will Hopoate – Parramatta Eels ($126.00) crownbet.com.au and sportsbet.com.au
Was solid in defence, however didn’t offer much in attack. Not a realistic chance in Game 2.
Michael Jennings – Sydney Roosters ($51.00) crownbet.com.au
Offered some glimpses of his blinding speed in game one, but otherwise was contained by the Queensland defence. Needs to combine more with the ball players and get into open space.
Josh Morris – Canterbury Bulldogs ($67.00) sportsbet.com.au
Morris’ odds dont justify his outstanding performance in game one. The Bulldogs centre kept Greg Inglis as quiet as a mouse and tested the Queensland defence on several occasions. He wont get the accolades he deserves, but he is sneaky value at $67.
Brett Morris – Canterbury Bulldogs ($51.00) luxbet.com.au
Returns to the Blues’ side and will combine with twin brother Josh. Was solid for the Bulldogs in his comeback match last week and offers plenty of options in attack.
Mitchell Pearce – Sydney Roosters ($12.00) sportsbet.com.au
Defied his critics with an impressive performance in game one. Showed good creativity and tried his heart out to inspire the Blues’ side. His combination with Hodkinson was superb. That combination will go into this match with even more experience and training time under their belts.
Trent Hodkinson – Canterbury Bulldogs ($29.00) crownbet.com.au
The late-mail for Hopkinson’s axing for game two came thick and fast after the Canterbury half was benched against Canberra, 15 minutes before full-time. He wasn’t terrible in game one, but only offered safe kicking options and good defence. Needs to spark his side considerably to be considered in this market
Aaron Woods – Wests Tigers ($34.00) crownbet.com.au and sportsbet.com.au
Was New South Wales’ best player in game one. Gained huge metres all night and tested the Queensland defence with every touch. Great odds to take man of the match honours with a repeat performance.
Robbie Farah – Wests Tigers ($12.00) crownbet.com.au
Made 61 tackles in game one and was as safe as a bank at dummy-half. Attempted to inspire the Blues’ attack as much as possible and will get through a mountain of work again.
James Tamou – North Queensland Cowboys ($34.00) sportsbet.com.au
Understandably tired late in the match in Origin 1, however his offload set up Morris’ brilliant try and carried the ball strong, as expected.
Beau Scott – St George Illawarra ($34.00) crownbet.com.au
Was picked in the side because of his defensive ability and as expected made a stack of metres and tackled with great tenacity. The icing on the cake was a try and four line breaks.
Ryan Hoffman – New Zealand Warriors ($34.00) crownbet.com.au
Played 80 minutes in game one and did his job. Nothing too flash, but took the ball up when necessary. Last year’s Brad Fittler medalist could be a dark horse for this award.
Paul Gallen – Cronulla Sharks ($13.00) sportsbet.com.au
The Blues’ captain returns in game two, despite having no match fitness under his belt. Always leads the side like a true warrior and always elevates his stats with a heap of tackles and metres.
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