There will be more on the line for Game II of the State of Origin series than just the result
A staggering 15 players in the in both team’s squads will be able to negotiate with rival clubs from November 1 – and all will be hoping to put their best foot forward when it comes to crucial contract talks.
Strong Origin performances are critical to maximising play contracts, with clubs willing to offer more money or extra years for the cream of the crop.
Tariq Sims strong performances in the 2021 season went a long way to the Storm seeing value in the 32-year-old and Wayne Bennett was quick to snap up Felise Kaufusi who has been a Maroons stalwart.
Some players have more to lose in 2022.
For several big names their next contract could be their last big-money deal, while a number of young guns are gunning for a lucrative agreement.
Foxsports.com.au has analysed the players with the most at stake and what an Origin blinder could do for their value!
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Current value: $1 million
Potential value: $1.2 million
Cameron Munster’s contract situation has become a circus after the Storm prioritised re-signing Jahrome Hughes and Harry Grant.
But, the 27-year-old has been in career-best form in 2022 and was the best player on the field in the series opener.
The Daily Telegraph’s Buzz Rothfield said on NRL360 that performance alone could have boosted his value by $100,000 – so if the talented five-eighth is to deliver in the remainder of the series he could be in for a sweet payday.
Munster’s preference is to remain at the Storm, but that looks to be an uphill battle.
Reports have suggested the Dolphins, Broncos and Bulldogs are interested but will have to fork out upwards of a million dollars for Munster to put pen to paper.
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Current value: $500,000
Potential value: $750,000
Crichton has been handed the starting centre spot in Game II after coming off the bench as a utility in the series opener.
The Panthers gun has been one of the best centres in the competition for almost a year now and has a premiership to boot.
Crichton, alongside Brian To’o and Liam Martin, can negotiate with rivals from November 1 and the Panthers will be looking to lock their gun centre up early.
But, the gifted athlete’s value could skyrocket with a strong Origin showing.
The 21-year-old could be a part of a huge Blues comeback series victory, something not many players that young have been involved in.
Crichton is reportedly a target of Wayne Bennett’s Dolphins and, if he makes the move, the Panthers gun will likely receive an increased salary to play fullback.
Current value: $150,000
Potential value: $650,000
The 20-year-old has been in blistering form this year, bursting onto the scene with 11 tries from 13 appearances.
Billy Slater put his faith in the young gun and he delivered, orchestrating a try down the right side of the field with an infield grubber for Dane Gagai.
Cobbo is contracted to the Broncos until the end of 2023 and is one of the hottest talents in the NRL. Now he has the chance to prove his worth against the very best.
He is yet to play finals football and hasn’t even notched 25 first grade appearances so far in his NRL career but reports have suggested over half of the competition have put their name forward to sign Cobbo.
The Broncos are leading the race but will have to dig into the salary cap to afford him. Should he shine in the final two games of the series and then help propel the Broncos into the finals then they will likely have to dig a little deeper.
Current value: $250,000
Potential value: $650,000
Jeremiah Nanai’s decision to sign a one-year contract extension was an incredibly savvy business decision.
While his signature quelled speculation over his future temporarily, November 1 is looming and rival clubs will again circle for the backrow star.
The high-flyer backed himself to prove his worth in the space of a year-and-a-half and has exceeded expectations only 17 games into his first grade career.
The 19-year-old was named on the bench for the Maroons and his game time in the series opener was only limited due to an ankle injury.
But, if he stars in the rest of the series and shows he can keep up with the competition’s best his value will increase even more than it already has.
Nanai sits equal fifth for total tries with 11, equalling Addo-Carr, Coates, Cobbo, Garrick and Katoa who all play in the outside backs.
Current value: $550,000
Potential value: $750,000
Burton started the season slow, as did the rest of his team at the Bulldogs, but has shown why he was one of the club’s main targets in recent weeks.
Playing in the halves for the Belmore club, Burton’s kicking and playmaking prowess has been on full display in recent weeks as the Bulldogs have started to turn things around.
Despite his running game taking back seat after switching to the halves, Brad Fittler has backed him, picking him in the centres for Game II. It gives him the chance to match-up against two of the NRL’s best outside backs in Valentine Holmes and Dane Gagai.
Burton’s value on the open market was already set to rise given he signed early with the Bulldogs on a deal worth just $550,000 a season. A strong Origin debut against the best in the game will only send that figure higher and cement him as one of the hottest young talents in the NRL.
Current value: $250,000
Potential value: $600,000
Talakai has taken his opportunity at the Sharks with both hands in 2022.
Starting the year off the bench before moving into the backrow, the former Souths star was solid.
But his move to the centres sparked a meteoric rise to the Origin arena.
Talakai will be used off the bench for Fittler’s Blues and will likely slot into the backrow, but the value in the Cronulla bowling ball is his versatility.
If Cleary, Luai or Crichton are injured Talakai can move to the centres, allowing Burton to switch into the halves if needed.
He can also slot in for Martin and Murray as a rotation player.
Talakai’s value has already gone through the roof, but his Origin debut could see that figure rise again before he is able to negotiate with rival clubs.
The 25-year-old is said to want to remain loyal to the club that gave him a second chance, but the Sharks will have to put their hand in their pocket to keep him.
Current value: $350,000
Potential value: $500,000
Murray Taulagi has earned an Origin debut, replacing Xavier Coates after a syndesmosis injury.
The 23-year-old has been in-form in 2022, alongside the rest of the Cowboys team.
Slater indicated his hard carries from the back and aerial ability, as just some of the reasons he earned the call-up.
Taulagi is another who can negotiate come November 1 and if he hadn’t already boosted his value in 2022 can do so even more in the Origin arena, proving he can cut it against NSW’s elite wingers.
He sits in 14th for tries scored, 11th for total running metres and sixth for total minutes, having missed on six minutes in total through 15 rounds.
Current value: $400,000
Potential value: $700,000
Brian To’o is set to receive a huge contract upgrade and his value has already increased, even before Origin.
To’o is just one of a number of Panthers stars who will be hoping for an upgraded deal.
The 23-year-old has years of football left ahead of him but will be wanting to secure the best deal for himself and his family.
The barnstorming winger is another who has reportedly been in Wayne Bennett’s scopes alongside teammate Stephen Crichton.
But, To’o is said to be happy to take salary under market value to remain at the foot of the mountains and be closer to family and the band of Panthers he came through the junior ranks with.
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Current value: $1.1 million
Potential value: $1.1 million
Ben Hunt has well and truly proven his worth in 2022.
The former Broncos playmaker has in the past been labelled the most overpaid player in the competition, but as it stands he is sitting on top of the Dally M leaderboard.
Hunt’s form also earned him a starting spot in the Maroons line-up ahead of Harry Grant.
The Dragons marquee man’s age is the only issue, but if continue his current form into the back-end of this year the Red V won’t hesitate extending his deal by at least a year at minimum.
While he may not be set for a huge pay rise, many wouldn’t have expected Hunt to deliver this season and hold his current value for the Dragons.