Per­form or per­ish to get Blue jer­sey

Da­ley tells hope­fuls it’s time to state case

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NRL - DAVID RICCIO CHIEF SPORTS WRITER

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.


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