Brad Fittler and the NSW Blues staff have a system that helps them select the Origin team which gives individual players a numerical rating based on statistics, with Payne Haas and Cameron Murray earning their debuts last year after being near the top of the list.
Via: Matt Buxton/NSW Blues
Haas was ranked second of all NSW-eligible players with a score of about 1.8 in a system that takes into account every positive and negative statistic across all areas of the game.
Fittler has revealed on the Sunday Footy Show that Melbourne Storm rookie Ryan Papenhuyzen has almost doubled every single other player in the competition eligible for the Blues with a score of about 3.
Papenhuyzen is only 24 games into his NRL career but his busyness in games with an ability to come on and play anywhere that led to that score in the rating system giving Fittler enough reason to declare him in the Origin mix.
“Because he comes on and is so effective, he scores heaps of tries and makes plenty of line-breaks, he actually nearly doubles anyone else,” Fittler said of the ratings system.
“One of the statisticians [at the Blues] is just in love with him, every time we sit down and talk about a team he just goes ‘well, Ryan Papenhuyzen.’
“He came into the emerging camp last year and he’s just been impressive. Since he was a kid, he’s been impressive.
“There’s a few covers [at fullback], you’ve got Tom Trbojevic, you’ve got a few blokes who are pretty good fullbacks but he’s in the mix.”
The most recent utility that Fittler has used in Origin off the bench is Jack Wighton, who then progressed to the starting line-up in the centres and was super impressive.
Therefore, even with James Tedesco and Tom Trbojevic in the team there is certainly an opportunity for Papenhuyzen to earn a spot – even if it’s on the bench – given he’s proven he can come off the bench for the Melbourne Storm and make an impact.
Fittler has coached Papenhuyzen in the NSW Pathways Program in years gone by, with the most notable camp being the 2016 NSW under-18s team that was captained by Cam Murray and included Payne Haas and Nic Cotric. That team smashed Queensland 26-0 in their own backyard at Suncorp Stadium.
“He was the star coming through, he was always the best fullback and one of the first picked his speed and just a great fella to have around the group,” Fittler said.
“I couldn’t believe when he left the Tigers, for whatever reason it was just beyond me that you couldn’t find a position for him somewhere in the team.
“He’s a fantastic kid, was always the star and just loves the game; he’s one of those kids that turns up, trains hard and loves the game.
“He’s shown he can come on and play different positions as well.”