NO HALF CHANCE

Moses out of Blues reck­on­ing af­ter Eel’s fail­ure to im­press

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NRL - MICHAEL CARAYANNIS

THE Eels’ run of poor form has caught up with Mitchell Moses as Blues se­lec­tors have run out of pa­tience with the mis­fir­ing Par­ra­matta No.7.

There had been a late push for Moses to snatch an un­likely Blues de­but but that looks to have been shelved af­ter an­other less-than-im­pres­sive show­ing against the War­riors on Fri­day night.

The Eels are on the bot­tom of the premier­ship lad­der with just two wins this sea­son, cru­elling Moses’ hopes of earn­ing a NSW call-up. The Blues’ halves race bat­tle is now down to three af­ter Nathan Cleary’s suc­cess­ful re­turn on Thurs­day night.

Cleary joins Pan­thers halves part- ner James Maloney and the Roost­ers’ Luke Keary in the race for a start­ing spot when the team is an­nounced next Mon­day.

The com­bi­na­tion of Cleary and Maloney is en­tic­ing but Keary has his own com­bi­na­tion with Roost­ers and Blues skip­per Boyd Cord­ner on the left edge, along with Blues hope­ful La­trell Mitchell, which is ap­peal­ing.

Cleary and Maloney are pre­par­ing for a show­down against in-form St Ge­orge Illawarra duo Ben Hunt and Gareth Wid­dop on Satur­day night.

The Blues hi­er­ar­chy started the sea­son with a list of more than 50 play­ers. The Sun­day Tele­graph can re­veal that a short­list of 26 re­main on the radar head­ing into the fi­nal round of games be­fore the team is cho­sen.

Tom Tr­bo­je­vic and James Tedesco re­main locked in a bat­tle for the full- back role, while the Mitchell and James Roberts clash on Fri­day night high­lighted the at­tack­ing bril­liance and de­fen­sive flaws of both.

Tr­bo­je­vic is also in con­tention for a cen­tre spot but is un­likely to fea­ture on the wing, with Josh Addo-Carr, Blake Fer­gu­son and Nick Cotric bat­tling for two spots.

Re­gard­less of the fi­nal 17, NSW will pick the great­est number of debu­tants in the 19 years since nine play­ers made their de­buts. There could be as many as 10 debu­tants, with Roberts, Mitchell, Cleary, Keary, Tr­bo­je­vic, Ad­doCarr, Cotric, Jack de Belin, Rea­gan Camp­bell-Gil­lard, Damien Cook and Cameron McInnes all touted.

Brad Fit­tler cap­tained the 1999 side to a 9-8 loss at Sun­corp Sta­dium which fea­tured first-gamers in­clud­ing Rob­bie Ross, Dar­ren Al­bert, Matt Geyer, Ja­son Stevens, Craig Gower, Bryan Fletcher, Ryan Girdler, Luke Rick­et­son and An­thony Mun­dine.

Stevens, who played in the open­ing match of the drawn series, said the Blues would ben­e­fit by not play­ing in Queens­land un­til game three.

“My most vivid me­mory was be­ing in a hud­dle and Freddy was talk­ing to us be­fore the game,” Stevens said of Fit­tler. “He was shout­ing or­ders and I couldn’t hear him. I was lit­er­ally stand­ing half a me­tre from him but the boo­ing was so loud.

“It was awe­some. Play­ing the game in Mel­bourne will work in our favour.

“No mat­ter what you say, it’s a huge thing go­ing up to Queens­land to play. I just love the way Freddy has taken charge.

“He is send­ing all the right sig­nals about cul­tures.”

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