Perform or perish to get Blue jersey
Daley tells hopefuls it’s time to state case
SEVEN days to prove you’re true blue.
It’s the equation for at least 12 remaining NSW Origin hopefuls with coach Laurie Daley slashing his original 52man list, first revealed in The Daily Telegraph four weeks ago.
Daley has whittled his list of candidates down to 31 with a combination of injury, suspension, recent form, the annual Anzac Day clash and the last instalment of City-Country Origin aiding the Blues mentor’s delicate decision-making process.
Daley will meet the NSWRL to finalise his 19-man squad for Origin I after next Sunday’s round 11 clash between South Sydney and Melbourne in Perth.
And it’s there, almost 4000km away, in a likely Origin I precursor, that NSW and Rabbitohs hooker Robbie Farah will have a final shot at showing Daley he deserves to retain the No.9 Blues jersey.
Farah will go head-to-head with none other than Queensland and Melbourne captain Cameron Smith.
The 33-year-old veteran was at his dynamic best on Friday night at ANZ Stadium against the Tigers, setting up two tries and leading Souths to victory through his kicking game.
Despite teammate Damien Cook entering the field late in the second half, Farah surpassed his season average of 45 minutes to play the full 80 minutes.
As far as the Blues are concerned, Farah holds a slender advantage over Penrith rake Peter Wallace, whose most recent Origin appearance with the Blues was during the 2009 series. Gold Coast hooker Nathan Peats, who is yet to play Origin, is considered third in line, while City Origin hooker Cameron McInnes and Country’s Cook, sit outside the discussion.
Farah’s experience of having played in 16 Origins will hold weight at the NSWRL selection table given the arduous task facing the Blues of trying to win game one at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Since 1980, NSW have won nine of the 20 series openers played in Queensland.
The Sunday Telegraph can reveal Daley’s reduced his original 52-man list by removing Canberra quartet Aidan Sezer, Blake Austin, Joey Leilua and Jack Wighton; Parramatta’s Tepai Moeroa; Cronulla’s Matt Prior; Canterbury’s Josh Reynolds; North Queensland fullback Lachlan Coote; Penrith duo Regan Campbell-Gillard and Bryce Cartwright; and Sydney Roosters pair Luke Keary and Daniel Tupou.
Only a shock form reversal, injury or suspension would force Daley into revisiting that group of players for Origin I on May 31.
Providing he remains healthy over the next seven days, Wests Tigers star James Tedesco will win the race for the NSW fullback jumper ahead of Coote, Wighton, Jarryd Hayne, Matt Moylan and Josh Dugan.
And only similar misfortune will stop Manly brothers Tom and Jake Trbojevic from becoming the first siblings to represent NSW since Brett and Josh Morris played together in Origin III, 2015.
Tom limped from the field
in last night’s clash with Brisbane and is in doubt for next Saturday’s match against the Gold Coast. He was considered a short-priced favourite to be named on a Blues wing, while Jake will be selected as part of Daley’s forward rotation.
Daley is also set to name an all-new frontrow. Paul Gallen and Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods led the Blues to victory in Origin III last year.
But in the wake of Gallen’s representative retirement and Woods working overtime to recover from a hamstring injury, David Klemmer, James Tamou and Andrew Fifita are in a three-way tussle to be named in the starting line-up.
League fans won’t catch Daley declaring his final 17 publicly until the final match of next weekend’s round is played, but Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce can rubberstamp his return for the Blues with a dominant performance against Parramatta at Allianz Stadium this afternoon.
Pearce was outstanding in the Roosters’ golden-point win over the Dragons on Anzac Day, however keen observers of the playmaker’s game were left questioning his consistency when his side was beaten by the Warriors 14 days ago.
Cronulla premiership-winner James Maloney is the short-priced favourite to partner Pearce in the halves, however Moylan isn’t without support and belief he could do the job after doing so in Origin III last year.
GAME 1 DEBUT ANTS 20 16