The State of Origin decider delivered one of the greatest rugby league games of all-time where some players thrived while others folded under the pressure of the occasion.
With the Rugby League World Cup set to be held in England later this year, the three-game series was always going to somewhat of a trail of those wanting to don the green and gold at seasons end.
Rugby league great Matty Johns has gone through each position and picked a hypothetical Kangaroos team after Game Three, with some star players set to miss out.
The former Newcastle, Wigan and Cronulla playmaker also named some bolters for the squad, with players to debut for Australia in this hypothetical side.
Blues captain James Tedesco is the incumbent in this jersey and is expected by many to hold his place in the starting side.
Arguably the world’s best player on his day, the Roosters No. 1 was endorsed by former Kangaroos captain Boyd Cordner to lead his country at the World Cup.
But you can’t forget about Kalyn Ponga.
Ponga has had miracles expected of him ever since he began sidestepping his way to stardom for the Anglican Church Grammar School First XV in Brisbane.
Well Ponga had undoubtedly his best series in the Maroon colours, and capped it off with arguably his best showing at that level too.
Speaking on his radio show Morning Glory with Matty JohnsJohns still expects ‘Teddy’ to hold his starting spot.
Dean Kemp who was also on the show today, agreed with that opinion.
“Have to go Teddy, have to go Teddy. I thought Kalyn was absolutely incredible, I think Kalyn should be in the squad, no doubt about that, in the World Cup squad,” Kemp said.
“I just think Tedesco, even if he (Ponga) had got a player of the series I wouldn’t have pushed that hard against it.
“He was incredible. He averaged 288 meters across the entire series, eight and a half tackle breaks a game, and without Tedesco in Game Three I think Queensland win comfortably.”
Johns kicked off this positional debate with a controversial pick, although many would agree with it.
“I’m going to start this one, controversial. First winger, Josh Addo-Carr,” Johns said.
“I’ve got Gagai on the other wing. I think Gagai is a better winger than he is a centre.”
Kemp took it one step further though by suggesting that two up-and-coming stars of tomorrow be thrown into the starting 13 for the Kangaroos.
“I’m going to throw a spanner in the works boys. Is there a world where we rip the band aid off and we go, ‘Suaalii, Cobbo on the wings?’” he said.
“Having them in the squad and then if they go out in some of those lesser games and killed it, they’d be pushing for a spot. They really would.
“I would have Addo-Carr and To’o there but obviously To’o is (going to play for) Samoa. But Selwyn (Cobbo) and Suaalii, the future that they could have in that Australia jersey, I just wonder whether this is the time to just go all in.
“So my winger would be Addo-Carr, and my other winger would be Valentine Holmes.”
Valentine Holmes has been on another level for the Cowboys this year, and has been instrumental in their once unlikely rise up to a second on the NRL ladder.
With 11 tackle breaks, two tries, seven goals, and some great work in defense, it’s almost no surprise that he had to be in Johns’ team.
“Well the first center I’d pick is Valentine Holmes. Valentine Holmes has just gone to another level in the centres,” Johns said.
“The other center I’d pick is Jack Wighton.”
“We are picking a team that plays next week.”
Cameron Munster was a major loss for the Queenslanders ahead of the State of Origin decider, considering he’s arguably been the backbone of that team for years.
Genuinely a player on the cusp of greatness if he hasn’t already reached such status, it’s no surprise that Johns, Kemp and Andrew Webster all had him at No.6 for Australia.
But the battle of the halfbacks is where it gets interesting.
Nathan Cleary has been arguably the best player at club level over the last few seasons, having helped guide the Panthers to a premiership last season.
But Maroons captain Daly Cherry-Evans simply played the game of his life on Wednesday, which saw Matty turn to a boxing analogy to explain his selection.
“This is a big one. Cameron Munster walk up start. Halfback, right, going into this third game (of Origin) I thought that Nathan Cleary was a certain (selection),” he said.
“However, my thought within incumbency is, it’s like being the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, if you want to take the title you’ve got to knock him out. If it’s a split decision, the champion keeps the belt.
“For that reason I’m going DCE.”
Who is the best hooker in the country? That’s the question that Johns posed to himself, his co-hosts of him and in a way those listening.
His answer was Harry Grant, but the effectiveness of Origin hero Ben Hunt can’t be ignored either.
“My first instinct, who is the best hooker in the country, it is Harry Grant.
“However that combination and how they were used by Billy (Slater) just worked a treat, so I’d start with Ben Hunt and Harry is my 14.”
Of the four props who started the Origin decider on Wednesday, only two of them have experience playing for Australia.
But Johns has overlooked Blues stalwart Jake Trbojevic, as well as the injured Payne Haas, and named replacement back rower Tino Fa’asuamaleaui at prop.
“My two front rowers, I’ve gone Tino Fa’asuamaleaui as one.
“Tino Fa’asuamaleaui is the first bloke I’d pick in the front row. I just love the way he plays.
“The other one, Josh Papalii.”
There is also a lot of debate surrounding the back row and how Mal Meninga’s side could take shape later this year.
But both Johns and Kemp have selected a teenage sensation to start for the Kangaroos later this year.
“My two backrowers, I’ve gone Cameron Murray with one and the other one is Jeremiah Nanai,” Johns said.
“I think Nanai is one of the most incredible talents I’ve seen. Huge range of skill, athleticism, great rugby league instincts. He’s not just an athlete, he’s got great instincts for the game.
“I actually think that Nanai is a bigger talent than Sonny Bill-Williams…I was only joking. But I think in five years’ time we’ll be looking at this guy.”
Origin rookie Patrick Carrigan stole the show this series, having been awarded the Wally Lewis Medal as the player of the series.
Going off the form of the series Kemp did select Carrigan to start in the No.13 jumper, although Johns turned to a Panthers star.
“Isaah Yeo,” Johns said. “I think he’s the most intelligent player in the competition.”
Johns selected Storm hooker Harry Grant on the bench, as he said he would.
He also selected Kalyn Ponga, Patrick Carrigan and Payne Haas in a list of all-star replacements that Mal Meninga could have at his disposal.