A dozen Blues spots up for grabs: Daley
With up to a dozen NSW Origin spots up for grabs, Country coach Laurie Daley believes Sunday’s City-Country clash will have a massive bearing on the make-up of the Blues team for game one.
WITH up to a dozen NSW Origin spots up for grabs, Country coach Laurie Daley believes Sunday’s City-Country clash will have a massive bearing on the make-up of the Blues team for game one.
Just five NSW players will line up to face New Zealand in the Test match in Auckland on Friday, while hooker Danny Buderus (Achilles), centre Michael Jennings (pectoral muscle), lock Glenn Stewart (thumb), utility Kurt Gidley (knee) and fullbacks Brett Stewart (ribs) and Josh Dugan (shoulder) are sidelined with injury.
Consequently, Daley believes just five or six players are assured of their Blues jerseys heading into next month’s Origin one clash with Queensland.
Skipper Paul Gallen, likely to play in the front-row, Newcastle winger Akuila Uate, Buderus, Penrith’s Luke Lewis and Gidley are the five believed to have been assured of NSW spots.
Jennings considered another certainty before suffering a pectoral muscle strain, putting his selection in doubt, while Kangaroo pair James Tamou and Anthony Watmough also have strong claims.
But that still leaves an unprecedented number of jerseys to fill – including the crucial halves spots – with Daley expecting Stuart to put even more emphasis on the Mudgee showdown.
“I’ve had a lot of dialogue with Ricky over the last couple of weeks in terms of the selections of our side … and I reckon he’s probably got about five or six certainties and the rest he is undecided on,” Daley said.
“That’s a pretty big incentive for a lot of the players who are going to play in this game.
“… In terms of an indicator of who is going to be picked in Origin, I think this will have a big bearing on certain positions.”
The uncertainty over the halves, centres and forwards means that big games could force the likes of Jarryd Hayne, Todd Carney, Josh Morris and Jarrod Mullen into Stuart’s side.
Daley, a former Test and NSW five-eighth, believes the halves battle is particularly open for debate.
“(Stuart) still doesn’t know what the best combination is to take on Queensland and I think you can see that with talk around the halves for instance,” Daley said.
“It’s pretty exciting that Hayne has been picked at five-eighth to partner Mitchell Pearce for City.”
Mullen, who will line up at halfback for Country, will get a chance to play five-eighth during the game as Daley tinkers with his combination – giving Stuart the best opportunity to decide on how the puzzle pieces will fit. – AAP