While State of Origin continues to be an incredible spectacle in Australia, the usual debates about reviving the Yorkshire v Lancashire clash always come to the fore.
This selection is based on the team’s current number of players for the 2021 season and is purely hypothetical given that there are no plans to launch an Origin series any time soon, despite the fact that there are Origin Academy matches later this year.
Could this be the best team Lancashire could create to face a Yorkshire XVII?
1. Sam Tomkins – Catalan Dragons
He was given a new lease of life in the South of France after joining the Catalan Dragons with Sam Tomkins winning the Man of Steel in 2021. Tomkins would enter this Lancashire team and will surely be Shaun Wane’s go-to man for the world this year. Cup. Yes, he was born in Milton Keynes, but he moved to Lancashire at an early age, going through Wigan Academy, hence his place in the list.
2. Tommy Makinson – St Helens
One of the best players of the season last year and easily the best finisher in the game – he causes problems for every player he comes up against. Makinson is the perfect try-scoring machine and would be a safe choice for Lancashire.
3. Kallum Watkins – Salford Red Devils
Not many people know this but Kallum Watkins was actually born in Manchester despite spending most of his career and life with Leeds Rhinos. And, having seemingly revived his career with the Salford Red Devils, Watkins would provide a great center option for Lancashire.
4. Mark Percival – St Helens
He’s certainly a heavy side of St Helens, but you just can’t leave this man out. In his time he is the best center in the Super League, it’s just a shame injury has plagued Mark Percival’s final seasons. Would no doubt thrive in a representative environment like this having already made several appearances for England.
5. Adam Swift – Hull FC
Prior to the 2021 season, Adam Swift would not have sought such representative honors. However, the winger’s form for Hull last year was nothing short of sensational. The move to the MKM stadium has rejuvenated his career and he and Hull are reaping the rewards.
6. Jonny Lomax – St. Helens
Whenever discussions about the best player of the year arise, this man is always near or at the top of the list. Respected both here and in Australia, Jonny Lomax would surely be a cert for selection in a Lancashire XVII.
7. Marc Sneyd – Salford Red Devils
He had been in Hull for so long you’d be forgiven for thinking Marc Sneyd is actually from Yorkshire. However, the talismanic half-back hails from Salford, which makes his inclusion in this list quite straightforward. With an incredible kicking game as well as a smart rugby brain, Sneyd would be a huge asset to Lancashire. Lewis Dodd would be left out purely out of experience.
8. Matty Lees – St Helens
Having taken over from Luke Thompson as first-choice prop, Matty Lees has gone from strength to strength with the added responsibility. Despite being only 23 years old, Lees has played nearly 100 games for the Saints and will certainly add more in the near future.
9. James Roby (C) – St Helens
One of the real big names in the Super League, James Roby has done it all. His experience and handling of the game is impeccable and he is the only candidate, in this writer’s opinion, who would be considered captain of a Lancashire team.
10. Mike Cooper – Wolves of Warrington
A player who knows what it’s like to play in the big games, Mike Cooper would be a welcome edition for a Lancashire XVII. He made over 300 appearances at club level (69 of them for the St. George Illawarra Dragons in the NRL) and was capped eight times for England in the 2015-16 campaign. Cooper has also appeared in the last three finals Warrington has appeared in, winning the 2019 Challenge Cup final against St. Helens.
11. Ben Currie – Wolves of Warrington
He has made six appearances in an England shirt, but many believe Ben Currie has yet to have a proper test in representative rugby. Although he has struggled with injuries in the past, his work ethic and performance for Warrington means he would certainly be in contention to be chosen to represent Lancashire.
12. Liam Farrell – Warriors of Wigan
With three tries for England and over 100 for the Warriors, as well as playing for one of the most successful teams in the Super League, Liam Farrell would be a welcome addition to this team. His big-game experience would be perfect for the occasion and it’s doubtful any other eligible player would be better for the position.
13. Joe Philbin – Wolves of Warrington
An extremely tenacious rugby player, Joe Philbin is one of Warrington’s stars and rightly so. His courage and determination on the pitch are evident and his physical presence would make a few players think twice. A definite choice for a strong Lancashire side.
14. Brad Dwyer – Leeds Rhino
Underutilized at Warrington perhaps, but finding himself to be one of the mainstays of Leeds, Brad Dwyer never leaves anything out on the pitch. His compact and explosive power, as well as his neat footwork, make him extremely dangerous for the opponent and he will never give up on a challenge.
15. Sam Powell – Warriors of Wigan
It is unfortunate for Sam Powell that he is behind James Roby because otherwise the hooker would surely be Origin’s number one choice for Lancashire. Having improved steadily since the departure of Michael McIlorum, Powell just needs to be included.
16. Richie Myler – Leeds Rhino
Last season, Richie Myler regained the form he had been somewhat lacking in recent years. Being re-signed by Leeds after the collapse of the Toronto Wolfpack seems to have restored his magic and he would be a vital playmaker in this team.
17. Jordan Turner – Castleford Tigers
A move to Castleford ahead of the 2021 season has given Jordan Turner new life and he’s showing what he can still do. At 32, Turner’s career seemed to be coming to an end at Huddersfield, but the utility took the bull by the horns and emerged as one of the Tigers’ most important players.