With the State of Origin continuously gaining in pedigree and support in Australia, the debate about whether the UK should bring back Yorkshire versus Lancashire continues to rear its head.
This selection is based off of the current squad numbers of players for the 2021 season and is purely hypothetical given there are no plans to initiate an Origin Series any time soon.
Could this be the best team Yorkshire can create to face a Lancashire XVII?
1. Jake Connor – Hull FC
One of the most controversial players in Super League, Jake Connor has never let the fog cloud his amazing skill and playing ability. He proves himself week after week and would be at the top of the list as fullback – but could swap positions with Zak Hardaker at centre if things weren’t going too well.
2. Tom Johnstone – Wakefield Trinity
If you’re looking for the perfect attacking winger then look no further than Wakefield’s Tom Johnstone. Despite concussion injuries plaguing his 2021 season, there is no doubt that when he takes to the field, Trinity are a more dangerous outfit. Yorkshire would certainly benefit with him in the side.
3. Zak Hardaker- Wigan Warriors
Zak Hardaker is not only one of the best players at the Warriors but one of the best players in the league. Anyone who has followed Zak’s career knows he his a get-on-with-it type centre who plays with huge conviction, though that can sometimes spill over into frustration.
4. Reece Lyne – Wakefield Trinity
He’s improved no end since joining Wakefield and Reece Lyne would be a great asset for Yorkshire. With a great eye for a defensive hit and the ability to bamboozle defenders, the centre would almost certainly be in the reckoning.
5. Ash Handley – Leeds Rhinos
Super League’s leading try scorer in 2020, Ash Handley is never happier than when he is running for the line. It is a safe bet that he would also be the leading try scorer in an Origin Series too. Despite suffering from injury in the past few seasons, Handley is still a world-class finisher and would be more than comfortable playing for Yorkshire.
6. Mikey Lewis – Hull KR
The rise of Mikey Lewis has been absolutely meteoric after previously playing a bit-part role for Hull KR prior to 2021. The halfback was entrusted by head coach Tony Smith to take on the halfback’s mantle and he hasn’t looked back since, winning Super League’s Try of the Year for 2021 after a superb individual effort against Warrington and helping Rovers to a semi-final spot. He would thrive on the big stage.
7. Luke Gale – Hull FC
After captaining the Leeds Rhinos to Challenge Cup victory in 2020, a less successful 2021 followed, with Luke Gale being stripped of his captaincy and exiting Leeds for Hull FC. But, his on-field game management has solidified him as one of the best scrum-halves in the league. Deadly accurate with drop goals, a close game is never over until Luke Gale says it is.
8. Alex Walmsley – St Helens
Achieving talismanic status at the Saints, Dewsbury born Alex Walmsley is as consistent and as hard working as any player in Super League history. He is powerful, leads from the front and is a sure selection for a Yorkshire Origin team. If a player can play in a Grand Final practically on one leg in 2020, what more proof does there need to be to prove that he is a dedicated team player? It would be a huge mistake if his name was not in contention.
9. Paul McShane (C) – Castleford Tigers
No proposed Yorkshire team would be complete without this man. Paul McShane was seemingly built to efficiently tackle anyone! There is no surprise he is the leading tackler in most of the games he plays in, but he is also a fantastic field tactician with an impressive running and kicking game. An obvious choice for hooker and he has also been given the captain’s armband after being one of Castleford’s most important and consistent leaders in the past few seasons.
10. Liam Watts – Castleford Tigers
One of the best offloaders in the game at present, Liam Watts would walk into the front row of a Yorkshire side. With a no-nonsense approach going forward and the mobility of a back, Watts is perhaps the most impressive all-round forwards in Super League.
11. Oliver Holmes – Warrington Wolves
Former Castleford Tigers star and England international, Oliver Holmes has become a well-respected player on both sides of the Pennines. His performances, particularly within the last few seasons, have certainly raised his profile and Holmes would fit in well within this team.
12. Jordan Lane – Hull FC
He made a huge impression in yet another season with the Black & Whites, and so Jordan Lane has come to the attention of many within Super League. He is a young player, but he already has a great mentality for the game as his performances show. Definitely one to watch for the future and a good choice for Yorkshire.
13. John Bateman- Wigan Warriors
Returning from a nothing short of triumphant NRL run with the ‘Green Machine’ in Canberra, John Bateman would be a huge boost to this team. It takes a lot for an Englishman to make as big of an impact as he did Down Under, and this would be reflected superbly within a Yorkshire XVII, even after a disappointing first year back in Super League.
14. Matty English – Huddersfield Giants
Another big tackler from the Huddersfield pack, Matty English would no doubt show what he is capable of in an Origin series. As a great carrier of the ball, English would definitely do himself justice if he were to secure selection.
15. Liam Sutcliffe – Leeds Rhinos
A player who is really coming into his own after a couple of unsteady seasons at Leeds. Last year, Sutcliffe voiced his concerns over remaining with the Rhinos and put in a transfer request. After much discussion with the club, things changed for him and he will try to make the centre position his once more, but his utility tag would be priceless for Yorkshire.
16. Scott Taylor – Hull FC
Scott Taylor may have had a disappointing 2021 season, but the prop had been suffering with injury for large parts of the campaign. But, with a full pre-season behind him, Taylor will be hoping to resurrect his good form which had previously earned him an England call-up.
17. Cameron Smith- Leeds Rhinos
A young player with a lot of potential, Cameron Smith has a bright future. He is a hard worker on the field and does what he needs to do to get the job done. This would be a great opportunity for him to play the game at a higher than club level.