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Six Origin bolters

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Willie Mason (NSW)

If you'd said Mason would have played State of Origin again following his ill-fated rugby league and rugby union stints in Europe in 2011, you would have been laughed out of town. The likelihood of him being recruited by another NRL club was slim, let alone him ever donning the blue jersey again. But when coach Wayne Bennett threw him a lifeline early in 2012 at the Newcastle Knights, it gave him a new lease on life. He has blossomed with the opportunity to be a leader among the Knights' forwards, and it has brought out the best in him. Mason holds the advantage of being one of the few NSW players still around who have won Origin series before – invaluable experience given the Maroons' streak of seven on the trot. He last took to the Origin stage back in 2008, and has 13 career appearances.

Daly Cherry-Evans (Queensland)

As one half of arguably the NRL's best halves pairing, you'd think Cherry-Evans would be a certainty for an Origin jumper. But given the strength and depth of the current Maroons' squad, the Manly playmaker struggles to force his way in behind Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk. Although Cherry-Evans' NRL career is only two years old, he's already played in a premiership and for Australia. His combination with Kieran Foran at the Sea Eagles is the key to the club's continued standing as a title contender. With the retirement of Petero Civoniceva, there's every chance the Maroons will move either David Shillington or Ben Hannant into the starting side, opening up a spot on the bench possibly for a utility back. Due to an interrupted and scratchy start to 2013, Ben Barba is likely to be overlooked by Queensland, further enhancing DCE's chances.

Ryan Hoffman (NSW)

Hoffman would be a wise choice if called upon by Blues coach Laurie Daley. It's unfair to refer to Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Billy Slater as Melbourne's big three, because Hoffman could well lay claim to being the fourth member of the group. Picking Hoffman in the NSW team would be like ordering a Big Mac from McDonalds – you know what you're going to get. He will work tirelessly all night, eating up metres in attack and making a solid contribution in defence. But the biggest reason Hoffman will be an asset for the Blues, a team starved of recent success, is purely and simply that he's a winner, having played in three premierships with the Storm (two of which were stripped). There's also no better person for coach Daley to speak to about ways of limiting the impact of Slater, Smith and Cronk. Like Mason, Hoffman would end a five-year Origin exile if picked.

Aaron Woods (NSW)

Wests Tigers enforcer Woods began the season having to deal with the setback of recently having knee surgery and played from the interchange in the opening round, but it's a setback that hasn't hindered his form at all. He drives defensive lines mad with his ability to offload, and helps his team's speed of the ruck with his fast play-the-balls. He's also a very capable defender. Woods made his representative debut for City Origin in 2012, and his steady rise up the ranks is likely to continue with an Origin berth this year.

Will Chambers (Queensland)

In last year's grand final, Melbourne's Chambers was faced with the unenviable defensive task of controlling explosive Canterbury pair Ben Barba and Josh Morris. Chambers didn't just control them, he shut them out of the game. It was proof the Storm centre is made for the big occasion. Together with the 2012 NRL triumph, the 24-year-old also played a key role in the club's now stripped 2009 title before switching codes to rugby union. If Justin Hodges gets injured for the Maroons, which he is prone to do, then selectors should look no further than three-quarter Chambers as his replacement.

Boyd Cordner (NSW)

In a signal that Cordner is being earmarked to play a future role at Origin level, he skippered NSW in the inaugural Under 20s State of Origin game. For 2013, he was also appointed vice-captain of his club, the Sydney Roosters, despite his youth. Toughness is a prerequisite of playing State of Origin and it's one box that Cordner definitely ticks. The 20-year-old has endured two knee reconstructions as well as a broken jaw, steeling him for what is destined to be a successful representative career, whether he is picked for the Blues in 2013 or not. Has started this season on fire and has done his chances no harm.

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