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What a Yorkshire Origin side would look like in 2024

Super League Origin Yorkshire

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 event lately, particularly given the fact that it did used to exist.

Yorkshire faced Lancashire for almost a century before ‘The War of the Roses’ disappeared for a decade, then returned from 2001 to 2003 as the County of Origin series.

It hasn’t returned since.

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.

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

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

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

Fullback: Jake Connor (Huddersfield Giants)

Credit: Imago Images

The phrase “hated, adored but never ignored” comes to mind when you hear Jake Connor’s name, but he’s also a player with bags of talent.

The Halifax-born utility man is back where his professional career began, playing for Huddersfield after five seasons away at Hull FC.

Despite often sitting at stand-off early in his career, he’s certainly now a fullback, playing there in every game in 2024.

He’s never one to shy away from a big occasion, and although this doesn’t always end up being a good thing, there’s no doubt he’d jump at the chance of representing Yorkshire in a big clash like this.

Connor could also be an option as the kicker, generally taking the role up for the Giants since signing in 2023.

Although the best fullbacks in Super League this season have largely come from abroad or from historic Lancashire, Jake Connor could certainly be a heavy-hitter here.

Wingers: Ash Handley (Leeds Rhinos) and Tom Johnstone (Catalans Dragons)

Credit: Imago Images

This would be an electric pairing.

Ash Handley, playing for his hometown club of Leeds Rhinos, has played for the side over 200 times and is a ‘get out of jail free’ card more times than you can count.

Creating some of the most spectacular tries of the current season, even in Rohan Smith’s struggling side, he’d almost certainly get the call up for Yorkshire.

The same applies for Tom Johnstone: he’d almost certainly be a shoe-in.

Although, unlike Handley, he’s ventured beyond Yorkshire to play for Catalans, he grew up in West Yorkshire and would qualify due to starting his professional career at Wakefield Trinity.

He was, however, born in Germany but would be eligible to play for Yorkshire should an origin series be revitalised.

Adding his tries to Handley’s means this pairing has well over 200 Super League tries to their name, and the pace would be off the scale.

Lancashire’s players would have to be careful – one misplaced pass on either wing and they’re four points down in the blink of an eye.

This would also be the case if either of Huddersfield-born Innes and Louis Senior were selected after their stand-out performances this season at Castleford Tigers.

Centres: Toby King (Warrington Wolves) and Jake Wardle (Wigan Warriors)

Credit: Imago Images

Although they’re both currently playing for sides outside of the county, these two are unmistakeably Yorkshire.

Toby King was born in Huddersfield, despite previously representing Ireland, and Jake Wardle was born in Halifax.

King has been a key member of an impressive Wire side this season, chipping in with five tries to add to his creativity, and also paired Jake Wardle in the centres last year as part of the all-conquering League Leaders’ Shield and Grand Final winners.

Wardle, meanwhile, has continued his impressive form at the Warriors, starting every game this season in another impressive season for Wigan.

When King went out on loan to Huddersfield in 2022, his place was immediately taken by a player from the Giants in a swap deal: Jake Wardle,

These two have been linked in some way many times, and their link-up in the centres for Yorkshire would be a sight to see.

Halves: Mikey Lewis (Hull KR) and Jordan Abdull (Catalans Dragons)

Origin

Credit: Imago Images

Just like King and Wardle, these two have a history of playing together, as they’ve been in the halves together at Hull KR.

Mikey Lewis, recently, has been catapulted into relative stardom, with impressive performances for both the plucky KR side and England showing the world just what he’s capable of.

He’s also added kicking from the tee to his repertoire of skills and is never far away from anything good that comes out of Hull KR.

Jordan Abdull, like Lewis, was born in Kingston-upon-Hull, and he’s represented both the East and West sides of the city.

Injuries have plagued recent seasons, but he’s showing his quality in Perpignan on loan from KR, despite not quite looking to be at his dynamic best.

Front row: Daryl Clark (St Helens), Tyler Dupree (Wigan Warriors) and Robbie Mulhern (Leigh Leopards)

Origin

Credit: Imago Images

Jez Litten is another Hull-born star to have represented both sides of the city, but he didn’t quite get in the side over Daryl Clark in this alternate universe.

Litten is certainly quality, but Clark, so far, seems to have done what nobody thought was possible: replacing James Roby. To an extent.

He made his name at hometown side Castleford Tigers before getting a move to Warrington, where he immediately won the Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award, before losing four major finals, then finally putting in a Lance Todd Trophy-winning performance in the 2019 Challenge Cup final victory over his current side, St Helens.

In the front row, he’s joined by yet another Halifax-born name, this time Tyler Dupree, who started his career with Leeds Rhinos before spells at Salford Red Devils and, now, Wigan Warriors on the other side of the Pennines.

Undoubtedly one of the first names on the team sheet for the side last year, he’s been on the bench more often his year, but his quality can’t go unnoticed.

The other prop we’ve picked is the moustache-wielding Robbie Mulhern, born in Leeds and currently at Leigh Leopards.

Before that, he had seven years playing for Yorkshire sides in Super League, namely Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR, and most notably won the 2023 Challenge Cup with the Leopards.

Back row: James Batchelor (Hull KR), Joe Batchelor (St Helens) and Elliot Minchella (Hull KR)

Origin

Credit: Imago Images

Some of the best forwards in Super League, both the Batchelors were born in Wakefield and it would be iconic to see a pair of brothers line up alongside one another for an Origin game.

James played for Wakefield from 2016 to 2022, doing it the easy way, before securing a move to Hull KR for the 2023 season.

Joe, however, had it harder, going all over the place on his way to rugby’s elite.

Starting as a Sheffield Eagles academy player, he spent time in Australia before starting his pro career with Coventry Bears.

He rose through the ranks after being impressive both in Coventry and at York and has now been part of one of Super League’s greatest-ever sides.

Just edging out Cam Smith, Elliot Minchella gets the nod at loose-forward, and brings some Bradfordian roots to the mix.

He also spent time in Sheffield, but started his career at Leeds before two years at his hometown side.

For Rovers, he’s been part of one of Super League’s feel-good rises to the top.

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