Which player will be the best on field in the Holden State of Origin series opener? The NRL.com experts have their say.
NRL.com's experts view
Brett Kimmorley (Former NSW halfback)
James Tedesco for man of the match. I expect him to be outstanding for NSW this year, just as he was last year. His attacking game is so good to watch.
Steve Renouf (Maroons legend)
I am tipping new Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans to vindicate the faith shown in him by the coach and star as man of the match.
Jamie Soward (Former Blues five-eighth)
Damien Cook’s my pick for man of the match - he’s playing at his explosive best and has already starred on the Origin stage before, plus he’s a more patient player than he was last year.
Chris Kennedy (NRL.com reporter)
I’m tipping the Blues to win this one and if that’s going to happen Damien Cook or James Tedesco probably needs to be best on ground – I’ll lean towards Cook.
Margie McDonald (NRL.com senior reporter)
Daly Cherry-Evans for man of the match – he scored the match-winning try for the Maroons in Game III last year. He’s fit and busting to get out there and create havoc for the Blues, especially after missing more than a month of football with Manly with an ankle injury.
Predicting the Blues' biggest surprise packet
Paul Suttor (NRL.com editor)
James Tedesco will take home man of the match honours by supporting the NSW forwards in attack on the fringes of the ruck to turn half-chances into points.
Tony Webeck (NRL.com reporter)
The power of the NSW pack combined with the devastating running game of Damien Cook might be too much for the Maroons to contain for 80 minutes. I’m tipping Cook to be named man of the match.
Maria Tsialis (Big League editor)
I think Nathan Cleary will be wanting to make a statement about his selection and abilities, so I expect him to be heavily involved and earn the man of the match gong.
Brad Walter (NRL.com senior reporter)
The Blues had success with a new-look team last year and I’m tipping another new face to take out man of the match, with Cody Walker to continue his terrific form this season.
Joel Gould (NRL.com reporter)
Kalyn Ponga is in electric form and in tandem with Cameron Munster will give the left side attack added potency. For mine, Ponga will be man of the match.
Lone Scout (NRL Fantasy expert)
I think the Maroons can edge this one, with Cameron Munster to have a hand in a couple of tries and take man-of-the-match honours.
Match: Maroons v Blues
Game 1 -
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Alicia Newton (NRL.com reporter)
He impressed in a cameo off the bench last year but Kalyn Ponga is about to light up the Origin arena, and is my man of the match.
Origin special - Breaking down the big game
Mary Konstantopoulos (Ladies Who League)
Cody Walker has been in exceptional form and is so proud to be playing for the Blues - he gets my man of the match for Game I.
Jonathan Healy (NRL.com reporter)
James Tedesco has the game made for the big occasion, so don't be surprised to see the Roosters star cross over for a couple of tries and claim the player of the match award.
Kenny Scott (NRL.com podcaster)
Queensland have the edge in both Origin and NRL experience and this, combined with that vicious Queensland crowd, will carry them home for the opening game led by Daly Cherry-Evans who will pick up player of the game.
Ponga: Origin was the biggest game of my life
Dan Walsh (NRL.com reporter)
James Tedesco to win man of the match. Queensland will come closer than expected, riding the atmosphere of Suncorp and the combined brilliance of Cam Munster and Kalyn Ponga, but the Blues hold the edge up front and the best of their own strike weapons will get the nod.
Tanisha Stanton (NRL.com reporter)
Damien Cook for man of the match. He’s been a key element to the Bunnies’ success so far this season. He leads to competition for try assists and dummy half runs, is ranked second for line engagement and line-break assists and is third for tackles made.
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