Maroons stars still holding sway over Blues rivals
QUEENSLAND fans have yet another reason to gloat after their State of Origin success this year.
The Maroons used a total of 26 players throughout the 2017 series, and incredibly, 20 of them remain in the hunt for the NRL title out of the four teams remaining.
That figure would in fact be 21 if Johnathan Thurston wasn't sidelined with his shoulder injury.
Meanwhile, south of the Tweed, only the Roosters' three NSW representatives in Blake Ferguson, Boyd Cordner and Mitchell Pearce are still alive.
The same Maroons stars who broke NSW hearts for the 11th time in 12 years play for Brisbane, North Queensland and Melbourne and their seasons have just gone from strength to strength since the interstate series came to its conclusion.
If you needed more proof the Maroons weren't short of winners, you only have to look at the state of play in the finals with three matches left to play.
Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai, Josh Papalii, Jarrod Wallace and Jacob Lillyman are the only Queenslanders whose teams either didn't make the top eight or have since been eliminated.
The difference between the Origin rivals is quite a discrepancy and the extra game time will no doubt help the players who are out to snare a spot in Australia's World Cup squad.
One of those stars is North Queensland's Michael Morgan, who is fighting it out for the Kangaroos' No.6 spot, and has been key to his side's incredible finals run which has claimed the scalps of both Cronulla and Parramatta.
Melbourne's Cameron Munster is also in the mix for the five-eighth role - which would be his first Kangaroos jersey - while solid finals form from the likes of Dylan Napa, James Roberts, Latrell Mitchell and Gavin Cooper also won't be hurting their chances either.
Meanwhile, Canterbury's NSW contingent of Josh Jackson, David Klemmer and Brett Morris were out of the premiership race months ago.
Ditto the Wests Tigers' Aaron Woods and James Tedesco. Or the Titans' Jarryd Hayne and Nathan Peats.
The Dragons' Josh Dugan and Tyson Frizell tripped and fell on the final hurdle to the playoffs.
And Manly and Cronulla's five-strong NSW contingent couldn't manage a finals win between them.
Don't look now Blues coaching candidates, looks like your Origin problems are bleeding into clubland.