HERE they are: the four State of Origin teams, picked as though a carnival was being played this weekend.
YOUR CLUB'S CONTENDERS We look at the State of Origin hopefuls
Which team wins? Victoria, led by a powerful midfield; WA's combination of speed and skill; SA's miserly backline and host of contested-ball winners; or the Allies' mix of mercurial talent and two powerhouse forwards? Check them out and have your say in the poll below.
Emg: Tom Bellchambers (Ess), Jed Anderson (NM), Liam Jones (Carl), Ben Brown (NM)
Stacked with key-position players and a few elite midfielders, this Allies team looks very good on paper. The northern Academies have certainly done their part, with players such as Harris Andrews, Isaac Heeney, Jacob Hopper and Callum Mills included. The tall defenders are the strength of the Allies' side, with Andrews and Alex Pearce among the best lockdown players in the competition and with Dane Rampe and Jeremy Howe also fantastic interceptors. Zac Williams and Jarrod Harbrow provide the run out of defence. The team also features a promising batch of small forwards that includes Heeney, Charlie Cameron, Alex Sexton and Luke Breust. The pairing of Tom Hawkins and Taylor Walker is an exciting combination up forward, though Charlie Dixon and Jack Riewoldt would have been considered if not for injuries. Jarrod Witts is one of the game's most influential rucks and will be complemented by a midfield featuring Hopper, Dayne Zorko and Dayne Beams. - Riley Beveridge and Michael Whiting
Queensland-born Beams has been in fine form upon his return to the Magpies this year. Picture: AFL Photos
Emg: Bryce Gibbs (Adel), Levi Greenwood (Coll), Paul Puopolo (Haw), Lincoln McCarthy (BL)
Injuries have decimated the South Australian line-up. Brad Ebert, Orazio Fantasia, Hamish Hartlett and Tom Jonas would have been walk-up starts, while Wayne Milera's run off halfback and ability to have bursts through the midfield would have been handy. Jack Hombsch has been in solid form for Gold Coast since his move north, and replaces his former Power teammate Jonas. The rest of the backline picks itself. Fingers crossed that Greater Western Sydney defender Phil Davis gets the all clear from an ankle injury to return this weekend. All Australian ruckman Brodie Grundy will provide great service to Lachie Neale. Scott Lycett and Justin Westhoff are the tall targets up forward. We had to find a spot for NAB AFL Rising Star contender Connor Rozee, who has the X-factor to turn a game on his own. Cam Ellis-Yolmen provides a strong midfield presence, while Sam Gray's recent form saw him edge past Brisbane's Lincoln McCarthy (who started well but has faded in recent weeks). - Lee Gaskin and Callum Twomey
Emg: Ben McEvoy (Haw), Dylan Shiel (Ess), Andrew Gaff (WC), Jake Lloyd (Syd)
The key posts in defence were awarded on form, and the combination of Blicavs and Moore, with versatile players around them, will take care of any forward line. Despite his move up the field for the Giants this season, Whitfield reverts to his All Australian position of half-back to provide some drive and polish. Sidebottom was preferred to Gaff with his ability to impact games marginally stronger, while Treloar, Boak and Shuey edged out Shiel for the extra midfield depth. Kelly, Oliver and Pendlebury simply couldn't be overlooked due to their starts to the season and overall class. While all six players named in attack could command the goalsquare, Dangerfield also can also be swung forward to add great flexibility. Gawn will do the bulk of the ruckwork and Lynch can be used as the back-up. - Mitch Cleary and Ben Guthrie
GWS pair Jeremy Cameron and Josh Kelly add some serious class to the Big V. Picture: AFL Photos
Emg: Daniel Rich (Bris) Ben Stratton (Haw), Nathan Wilson (Frem), Jesse Hogan (Frem)
Despite not being able to pick the game's number one defender (Rance), our first-choice ruckman (Naitanui) or best ball-winner (Mitchell) because of injury, the selectors have come up with an outstanding side. The midfield contains arguably the competition's top four onballers right now in Kelly, Coniglio, Cripps and Fyfe. Coleman medallists Franklin (four) and Kennedy (two) bring a wealth of experience to help young tyro Naughton (selected over Jesse Hogan) adjust to Origin footy, with Matera the specialist small forward picked alongside Walters. Franklin has been under an injury cloud but declared himself available to represent the Sandgropers earlier this week. McGovern and Hooker were easy choices to fill the key defensive posts, while Hamling and Taylor – who got the nod ahead of Stratton – are able to play tall and small, and Johannisen and Sheppard provide enormous drive. Lobb claimed the last spot in the team ahead of Rich to give the team two genuine ruck/forward options. - Adam Curley and Travis King