Monday 19 March 2018 / 11:48 AM


The Queensland State of Origin side was hit hard by injuries leading into Game 1, but the biggest selection controversy surrounded the omission of custodian stalwart Billy Slater. But what transpired in Game I was a complete annihilation of the Maroons’ forwards.

In light of the impending selection shake-up north of the border, here is an in-depth statistical look at who the form Queensland forwards are and who they should pick if they are to stand up to the Blues pack.

The 22 eligible Queenslander contenders, including the eight who played in Origin I, have had their 2017 NRL stats tallied and compared with the eight NSW Origin players.


Josh Papalii and Gavin Cooper average just over 80 mins per game courtesy of having played in some golden point games, with Blues Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson, Wade Graham and Jake Trbojevic all joining Felise Kaufusi and Matt Gillett in averaging over 70 minutes per game. Six of the players average less than 40 minutes per game – and they’re all Maroons, including Origin player Nate Myles at 34.90.

Running Game

Just three players average over 10 metres per run: Myles (10.53), Jayson Bukuya (10.30) and Josh Papalii (10.16), while the bottom two are Origin players Dylan Napa (8.46) and Matt Gillett (8.20). Josh McGuire makes the most hit-ups per game with 15.83, with four Blues behind him; Cordner (14.92), Fifita (14.27), Klemmer (13.82) and Woods (13.73).

Graham and Coen Hess lead the field with seven line-breaks apiece, while Fifita (4.18), Papalii (3.27) and Hess (3.25) dominate the field for tackle-breaks per game, with Myles (0.10) dead last.

Opportunity Creation

Papalii and Graham have both notched four line-break assists each, with Trbojevic behind them with three. Nine other players have had just one each for the year, including Fifita, Jackson and Frizell for NSW and Sam Thaiday and Gillett for Queensland. Graham leads for try assists as well, with another four with Papalii next on three, Gillett and Tim Glasby with two each and Fifita, Jackson and Korbin Sims all with one.

Six of the top 10 for offloading are Blues players: Fifita (2.36 per game), Woods (1.91), Trbojevic (1.33), Jackson and Frizell (1.08) and Graham (0.82), with Papalii (1.82) and McGuire (0.83) the only Maroons Origin players in the top 10.


Trbojevic and Fifita have impressive tackle stats. Trbojevic has made 434 tackles and missed 15 at 96.66%, while Fifita has made 314 tackles and missed just 11 at 96.62%. Josh Papalii is fourth at an excellent 95.90% behind Luke Bateman, who has a marginally better success rate of 95.96%. Three of the bottom five were Maroons Origin players: Gillett (90.65%), Myles (90.55%) and last-placed Napa (86.11%), who along with Ethan Lowe (89.89%) are the only players with less than a 90% success rate.


An area where the Blues are dominated. Lillyman, Myles and Napa have the best hands, making two handling errors between them, while Cooper, Hess and Graham have 10 errors, and Gillett and Fifita are tied worst with 11 each. Five of the worst seven players for penalties conceded were also NSW players. Graham and Fifita have been penalised nine times, Trbojevic 10, Klemmer 11 and Jackson 12, while Patrick Kaufusi leads the way, having been penalised just once.


Josh Papalii dominates all bar one of the 11 statistical fields, ranking in the top three in eight categroies, fourth in tackling, sixth in hit-ups and 13th for errors. No one is remotely close to him. The next four best are all Blues players – Trbojevic, Frizell, Fifita and Cordner – followed up by McGuire and Graham. The next seven best forwards are all Queenslanders who weren’t a part of Origin I, headed by the ever-reliable and consistent Jayson Bukuya, Titans prop Jarrod Wallace, Cowboys gun back-rower Coen Hess, the aggressive Korbin Sims, 2016 mature-aged Origin debutant Gavin Cooper, and Melbourne’s Maroons hopeful Tim Glasby.

Queensland’s Statistically Strongest Pack

(With Cameron Smith at hooker and Michael Morgan as the bench utility)

8 – Jarrod Wallace

9 – Cameron Smith

10 – Korbin Sims

11 – Josh Papalii

12 – Jayson Bukuya

13 – Josh McGuire


14 – Coen Hess

15 – Gavin Cooper

16 – Tim Glasby

17 – Michael Morgan


Next best in order are:

18 – Matt Gillett

19 – Scott Bolton

20 – Ethan Lowe

21 – Felise Kaufusi

22 – Aidan Guerra

23 – Sam Thaiday

24 – Dylan Napa

25 – Jacob Lillyman

26 – Brenton Lawrence

27 – Patrick Kaufusi

28 – Luke Bateman

29 – Nate Myles

30 – Christian Welch

31 – Dunamis Lui

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About the author

Andrew Ferguson

A rugby league historian and stats buff – most notably as the brains behind the phenomenal Rugby League Project resource – Melbourne-based Andrew has written extensively for Rugby League Review and the Men of League magazine, and is a valued addition to CBS’s rugby league stable.

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