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What a Lancashire Origin side would look like in 2024

Lancashire Origin

Super League doesn’t have it, but NRL’s State of Origin begins next week with the Blues of New South Wales set to take on the Maroons of Queensland in one of rugby league’s most iconic events, but what if Super League did have it?

Inevitably, there have been talks of Super League having its own State of Origin-style event lately, particularly given the fact that it did used to exist.

Originally called the War of the Roses, Yorkshire faced Lancashire for a number of years, before it took a decade-long hiatus, then returning from 2001 to 2003 as the County of Origin series.

The century-long rivalry culminated with the sides winning 44 games each, meaning if it was to return as a concept, the next winners would immediately go ahead in the all-time rankings.

With this in mind, we’ve selected the players we think would be in the starting 13 for Lancashire if the two sides were to meet again.

Although now not officially part of the county, Greater Manchester and Merseyside have been counted here, as historical parts of Lancashire.

Traditionally, you could also represent the county in which you first played professionally.

Lancashire’s Starting 13 for a Super League State of Origin

Fullback:  Jack Welsby (St Helens)

Origin

Credit: Imago Images

It’s fair to say that much of the fullback talent in Super League comes from abroad, with players such as Jai Field, Matt Dufty and Matt Moylan coming from Down Under.

However, it’s also fair to say there aren’t many players in the world that you’d prefer to have at fullback than Jack Welsby.

There are times when he looks like the best fullback in the world and indeed did probably hold that title during his side’s incredible 2022.

However, this year, alongside most of Paul Wellens’ side, he’s looked a bit more human.

Despite this, he’s still one of the league’s top try scorers, with 11, and he’s still been one of Saints’ stand-out players this season, meaning he’s still right up there with the league’s best.

Centres: Oli Gildart (Hull KR) and Mark Percival (St Helens)

Credit: Imago Images

This would be a formidable pairing in the centres, as these are two of the very best in Super League.

Playing for Merseyside’s St Helens for over a decade, Percival has cemented his place as one of the greats in his position, being in the Dream Team multiple times and winning everything there is to win in British rugby league.

Oli Gildart is also one of the best around, being born in Greater Manchester and originally representing Saints’ rivals, Wigan Warriors, before a brief spell in NRL and currently, playing for Hull KR.

He’s been key to Rovers’ good start to the season and is also a two-time winner of the Grand Final.

QUIZ: How many of these past and present Super League players can you name?

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Wingers: Liam Marshall (Wigan Warriors) and Adam Swift (Huddersfield Giants)

Origin

Credit: Imago Images

Liam Marshall and Adam Swift are actually Super League’s current top try-scorers, with 12 and 11 respectively, and are at the top of their games currently.

At Saints for eight years, Swift was an impressive try scorer right from the start of his career and is now continuing the form he’s always shown himself to be capable of with Huddersfield Giants, despite their recent woes.

Marshall, meanwhile, has spent his entire career with Wigan, with an impressive record of almost a try per game over nine spectacular seasons, being key to one of the best teams in the league.

Tommy Makinson may be slightly past his best, but he would also be an excellent option for this Lancashire side.

Halves: Harry Smith (Wigan Warriors) and George Williams (Warrington Wolves)

Origin Harry Smith

Credit: Imago Images

A strong position for Lancashire, Marc Sneyd could easily also have been in this side, and would bring a lot to the table with his boot.

However, George Williams, potentially the best stand-off in Super League, is another who began his career at Wigan.

The England captain may divide opinion, but one thing that can’t be denied is his quality. One of the best halves around, he’s been key to Wire’s much-improved 2024.

Alongside him, Harry Smith progressed the hard way, being loaned to Swinton and London Skolars before finally cementing his place for the Warriors as one of the best halves in the league.

Front-row: Luke Thompson (Wigan Warriors), Andy Ackers (Leeds Rhinos) and Matty Lees (St Helens)

Credit: Imago Images

Luke Thompson, a versatile forward that can play at both prop and loose-forward, spent eight years at St Helens, but is now at Wigan Warriors, who clearly respect his ability, handing him a four-year contract ahead of this season.

He’d be alongside former prop partner Matty Lees, who comes from Rochdale and is undoubtedly one of Super League’s stand-out forwards.

Part of the all-conquering Saints side that won four Grand Finals in a row, he can drive through defences like they aren’t there.

Although the Rhinos haven’t been at their best this year, Golborne-born hooker Andy Ackers has certainly been one of their better players in 2024, and was a top, top player for Salford Red Devils before his move to Headingley.

Back row: Liam Farrell (Wigan Warriors), Matt Whitley (St Helens) and Morgan Knowles (St Helens)

Credit: Imago Images

A Wigan and Saints grouping in the back row would be an all-star forward line-up for this Lancashire Origin side.

Liam Farrell, with the Warriors, is a one-club man in his hometown and has been part of one of the club’s most successful spells, including winning Super Leagues, Challenge Cups and the World Club Challenge.

Alongside him would be a Saints duo of Matt Whitley and Morgan Knowles.

Knowles himself has seen plenty of success, being with Saints for a number of years, while Whitley has finally signed for his hometown side after lengthy spells with Widnes Vikings and Catalans Dragons.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Harry

    May 28, 2024 at 9:03 am

    NRL eligibility rules for State Of Origin are arcane. Have a look at https://www.nrl.com/siteassets/documents/state-of-origin-eligibility-rules.pdf

    I got thinking about these when thinking about Herbie Farnworth, who has represented England, was born in Lancashire, but was recruited by the Brisbane Broncos and played his first professional game in Queensland.

    He can’t qualify for SOO because he has played for a Tier 1 nation that isn’t Australia.
    So would he be disqualified from the War Of the Roses because he didn’t play his first professional game for either county?

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